No evacuation for less fortunate children of Hamidah Complex despite in proximity to peat fire zone

The Hamidah Yakub Welfare Complex which is situated 15 km from Miri and 20 km from Kuala Baram.

by Jaythaleela K

MIRI, Aug 12:  There has been no evacuation instruction for the less fortunate children and staff of Hamidah Yakub Welfare Complex despite peat fires have been breaking out  20 to 100 meters away from the building. 

The current peat fires in Miri which Miri Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) have been fighting are found in the open area between the complex and Industrial Training Institute (ILP) Miri which is 3.4 km away from the complex and Kuala Baram which is about 20 km away.

The peat fires which have been raging for the last 12 days are the reason for the high air pollution index (API) of more than 300 in the area.  

A visit to the area this morning shows that the air quality was hazardous with ashes raining from the sky.  Just an hour stay at the area brought about watery and itchy eyes and difficulty in breathing.  

The complex normally houses 50 less fortunate children, for both Muslims and non-Muslims.  Some of them are orphans while others are there because their parents are too poor to provide for them.

The ashes that can be seen on a car parked outside the complex after an hour.

As schools are having a week’s break, ILP Miri has also been closed, but not the complex. 42 children of the complex have returned to their respective homes, but there are still eight children staying in and five staff on duty daily in the complex.

The concern is firstly the building is in close proximity with peat fire zone, as according to Miri Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) chief Supt Law Poh Kiong, the peat soil fires could be spotted between 20 to 100 meters away from the complex.

The second concern, is for the 13 individuals who are still in the complex.  With hazardous air quality within the area, and peat fires burning day and night 10 or 100 meters away, should they continue to stay in the complex?

“So far, there is no evacuation instructions from the MOE (Ministry of Education) to evacuate students for both ILP Miri and Hamidah Yakub complex as its under their purview,” said Law.

ILP Miri has been registering the worst API in the country so far.  On Saturday (Aug 10), ILP Miri in Kuala Baram recorded an API reading of 390.

Yesterday, as of 6 pm, the API reading for ILP Miri went up to 396 and a total of six hotspot of intense fires were detected within Kuala Baram, with one of them reaching  very near to the complex.  

This morning as of 8 am, the API of ILP Miri was still at 301.  

For the past 12 days in this area, plumes of smoke were visible from miles and think haze has been blanketing most areas in Kuala Baram.

A total of 684 hectares of land in Kuala Baram area have been burnt and destroyed by raging peat soil fires between August 1 to yesterday. — DayakDaily