by Karen Bong
KUCHING, August 14: A Bombardier CL415 water bomber belonging to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has been called into service to help contain peat fires sweeping across nearly 24 square kilometres in Kuala Baram, Miri.
The wildfires have been raging for 14 days, shrouding the area with severe haze classified as hazardous under the air pollution index (API).
The water bomber aircraft, according to MMEA Sarawak director First Admiral Robert Teh, has been scheduled to leave its Subang base later this evening and is expected to reach Miri by late night or early tomorrow morning.
“The state government has requested the assistance from MMEA to support efforts of departments and agencies such as Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) to fight the wildfires,” he told a press conference at the Maritime Complex in Muara Tebas here today.
The water bombing operation, he revealed, will be coordinated between MMEA Miri and MMEA Putrajaya headquarters’ Air Operation Division.
“Two teams comprising pilots and crew will take turn to fly the Bombardier according to rotation which has been planned by the Air Operation Division,” he explained.
“We are planning to carry out two sorties every day and each sortie to carry out water bombings is expected to last four hours,” he said.
Teh added that the Bombardier plane had the ability to carry out water bombing operations lasting between eight to ten hours depending on several factors, notably the distance between water sources and fire locations.
“The Bombardier is capable of releasing 6,000 litres of water. It has the ability to scoop that amount of water in 12 seconds. It will be more effective,” he said, noting that Bomba has deployed their helicopter for water bombing operations as well.
“We can do more rounds of water bombing provided that the water source is near the fire location which I think won’t be a problem in Miri. So we hope it can improve the haze situation,” he added.
Teh pointed out that the Bombardier plane will be in Miri for seven days and its stay could be extended if the need arises.
This operation, Teh emphasised, demonstrated MMEA’s committment to providing assistance and support during natural disasters.
“This is not the first operation involving MMEA assets but we have assisted in several cases including during the 34 sq km forest fire in Miri and other operations in the peninsular and Indonesia,” he added. — DayakDaily