Tired folk battling bush fires had a breather when the heavens finally opened

Senadin area, where the wildfire smokes are still active.

By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, April 19: The hot and dry spell lasting several weeks finally came to an end when heavy rain pounded Kuala Baram and several parts of Miri today, but only for about 30 minutes.

But the downpour that started at about 11.40am brought some relief to the firefighters who have been battling bushfires virtually nonstop for weeks.

“Fortunately, this morning heavy rain occurred in Kuala Baram and several parts of Miri. It helps us a lot in our effort to put out bush fires. We definitely need all the `support’ we can get,” said Miri Bomba chief Supt Law Poh Kiong when met this morning.

The teams on the ground battling the wildfire smoke using direct-battle tactics.

Today, Law led 39 firemen to join 17 soldiers, four staff from the Department of Drainage and Irrigation (DID), four workers of the Department of Mineral and Geoscience Malaysia, and four Miri Amateur Radio members to douse wildfire smoke near Curtin University.

“Today, our focus is on fighting wildfire smoke around Curtin (in Senadin). We hope it can be done or at least reduce it before next week because that week is Curtin’s Orientation Week,” said Law.

“Currently, some amount of smoke can still be seen coming out from the affected areas despite the rain.”

The teams are geared for action.
Law (right) onboard a helicopter to monitor the operation.

He added that the operation also involved Bomba’s Air Unit to conduct water bombing.

The Air Pollutant Index (API) in Miri soared to 188 at 5am today, a level considered as “unhealthy”. By noon, it retracted slighted to 172, which is still within the “unhealthy” range.

The dry spell here had not only led to bush fires but turned the environment hazy and the air choking.

Yesterday, SK Kuala Baram II was ordered to close when bush fires races in the direction of the school. — DayakDaily