Limited water source delays fire control at Ulung Palang forest

Smoke can be seen billowing up the sky from the forest fires at Ulung Palang in Bario highlands.

By Nancy Nais

BARIO, Sept 28: The Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) MI-171 helicopter could not conduct aerial water bombing operations to stop Ulung Palang forest fire today, due to limited source of water at the highlands.

Miri Station fire chief Law Poh Kiong informed that the air unit’s 10-men crew took off about 10am today for an aerial survey and discovered the water source was too shallow for the helicopter to do water scooping.

The operations were also participated by six firefighters, 10 personnel from the armed forces and four from the police, while volunteer firefighters from the village assisted on ground operations.

View of the charred area after a fire in Ulung Palang, Bario highlands.

Villagers reported about the forest fire which has spread to an estimated 20 hectares of land yesterday (Sept 27) evening.

Bario volunteer firefighters together with villagers and students had tried to contain the fire early in the day.

Today’s operations were divided to two sectors in which fires at Sector A involving two acres have been doused, while fires in Sector B spanning three acres were still active.

Ground personnel using direct attack to stop the fire at Ulung Palang, Bario highlands.

“There are no water sources at or near the areas affected. The nearest location is about 600 metre from the main road of the village. Operations at Sector B will continue tomorrow,” Law added.

The Bario highlands is located on the Kelabit Highlands in Baram, lying at an altitude of 1,000 metre (3,280 ft) above sea level.

The only road connecting Bario to Miri is a logging road, which is only navigable using four-wheel drive vehicles and the journey takes 12 to 15 hours, or longer if the road becomes muddy during the rainy season.

Another access to Bario is by flight, on a 16-seater turboprop aircraft by MASwings.— DayakDaily