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By Jaythaleela K
MIRI, Aug 11: Miri Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) is in dire need of more manpower and heavy machinery to battle peat soil fires, revealed its chief Supt Law Poh Kiong.
Law disclosed this when met today by local media at the Tudan watchtower, during a visit to monitor the situation, accompanied by Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting.
He revealed that so far, a total of 684 hectares of land in Kuala Baram area have been ravaged by peat soil fires, since August 1 until today (August 11).
“The persistent blaze that has occurred for 11 days has released continuous smoke into the air, creating haze which has blanketed most parts of the Kuala Baram areas,” he said.
“Today (August 11), 70 hectares of land in the area equivalent to 200 football fields, are still burning and being destroyed by the peat fires,” he added.
“we are in dire need of additional manpower, at least 100 volunteers, from other agencies, and machinery to help battle the blaze which has been causing haze problems in the area for the past 11 days.”
He said heavy machinery is much needed to help build trenches and fire breaks within the affected areas.
Law hopes that more private companies could lend them the said machinery to help contain the peat fires.
“Despites the dry weather, we are persistent in battling the blaze, and today we have detected at least 40 hotspots within Kuala Baram.
“We hope for rain to better improve the API reading and the haze,” he said.
Law also revealed that currently they (Bomba Miri) could not implement aerial fire-fighting, following detected damage to a Bomba Air Unit helicopter.
On Saturday (Aug 10), an Air Pollution Index (API) reading of 390 was recorded at the Miri Industrial Training Institute (ILP) in Kuala Baram, the highest in the country.
API readings above 300 are classified as hazardous.
Kuala Baram is located about 14km from Miri city.
Meanwhile, Ting revealed that the state disaster management committee led by its chairman Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas will be holding a meeting to discuss on the issue this coming Wednesday.
He also called on the federal government for help to resolve the matter and for federal minister to visit Miriso they can see the seriousness of the situation firsthand.
Ting also lauded firefighters and Naim’s firefighting team for their continous effort in battling the peat soil fires.
He also advised people living within the affected areas to stay indoors and avoid outdoor acitivities. — DayakDaily