Miri on alert as threat of peat fires expected to increase

Uggah (red cap) observes a water pump demonstration near the tower.

By Brad Rantayy

MIRI, April 22: Miri is facing increased risk of peat fires from the beginning of May onwards which is expected to peak in September, especially in the Baram delta.

A total of RM651,000 has been allocated to the Miri Disaster Management Committee at its request to counter peat fire in the coming months, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas after he was briefed on the fire engulfing some 1,355 acres in Kuala Baram at the Fire Monitoring Tower in Tudan yesterday.

Uggah disclosed that local authorities were caught off guard by the said fire which has been raging over the last five days.

“This is perhaps due to weather change resulting in it being hot and dry here with strong winds blowing,” he opined.

He also noted that managing the risk of peat fires in Baram in the coming months is crucial not only to protect Miri, but also to ensure Brunei will not be affected by hazards such as haze.

Uggah who is also the State Disaster Management Committee chairman said the body would hold a meeting soon to devise a long-term plan to counter such fires.

“We need to work out strategies like getting extra tube wells and drones for monitoring.

“We need to work closely with agencies like the DOE (Department of Environment) and the NREB (Natural Resources and Environment Board) because they have laws in place to deal with wanton open burning,” he said.

He also reminded the public to co-operate by not conducting open burning and said stern action would be taken against perpetrators.

Meanwhile, Uggah said the various groups here involved in firefighting efforts such as the Fire and Rescue Department, the police, Miri Municipal Council, DOE, NREB, the army, and other agencies were doing a good job.

He also cited the efforts of firefighting teams set up by certain plantation companies and emphasised the crucial role modern technology such as drones could play in fire hot spot detection and fire prevention. — DayakDaily