Human activities, hot and dry season sparking wildfires; public urged to play proactive role

Firefighters battling wildfires in Marudi district.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, March 19: There is an alarming increase in the number of wildfires in the state so far this month compared to the whole of March last year, prompting the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) to appeal to the public to give the authorities a helping hand.

According to Bomba, 139 wildfires were recorded from March 1 to 18 this year, ravaging some 229.29 acres (93 hectares) of farms, forests, bushes and rubbish dumps.


But for the whole of March 2018, the department recorded only 66 cases (73.32 acres).

State Bomba director Khirudin Drahman said the trend was expected to continue and rise due to the hot and dry weather in northern Sarawak.

The districts that have been hit the hardest in the past two weeks are Miri, Lawas and Marudi.

Firefighters battling wildfires in Marudi district.

Of the 139 cases, Miri Division recorded 67 per cent of the calls (or 93 cases) followed by Limbang and Bintulu Divisions with seven per cent (10 cases) of the calls each.

Most of the fires were sparked by human activities, which includes improper disposal of cigarettes and deliberate small-scale open burning.

The firemen have been working around-the-clock to ensure the situation is kept under control.

“We are pleading to members of the public to assist in curbing any form of open burning activities. If anyone sees an open burning activity, please report to Bomba, environment department or the local authorities to prevent the spread of fire to wider areas,” Khirudin said.

The Bomba air unit, which is based in Miri, is also on standby for any eventuality. — DayakDaily