KUCHING: Stop all open burning activities, says the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) once again, after detecting sporadic incidences of forest fires within Sarawak.
Near Bintulu on Sunday, huge plumes of smoke were reported along Jalan Bakun about 50km from the dam. An early NREB report indicated the fire was started by residents of longhouse Uma' Bakong, possibly for hill paddy planting purposes.
NREB Sarawak controller Peter Sawal (pic) said, "open burning for subsistence farming is not regulated by the law".
"However, we will remind them to be more careful especially during this dry and hazy period," Peter told The Star by phone on Tuesday.
"As observed this morning during investigation, there is no more fire.
The burnt area is about 2km from the longhouse.
“Heavy rain the night before doused the fires. However the only accessible road (to the longhouse) became flooded and was inaccessible. We were not able to enter that area. A reminder letter will be issued."
Peter said the board was concerned of small fires started by local communities could spread to other areas. NREB has cancelled all open burning permits since the dry season began and have not issued any since.
The Air Pollution Index (API) for Bintulu was moderate at 56 around 11am today.
Meanwhile, the Asean Specialised Meteoroligical Centre said 124 hotspots were detected in Kalimantan on Monday, down slightly from the 132 detected a day before.
"Kalimantan and Sumatra continued to be shrouded in widespread moderate to dense smoke haze.
“Haze was also observed to have spread to Strait of Malacca and parts of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia," said its update at noon Monday.
"The hotspot activities in Sumatra could not be fully determined due to cloud cover in central Sumatra and partial satellite pass."
On Sept 2, the centre based in Singapore issued Alert Level Three, the most severe, for Sumatra.
In its seasonal update, it said climate conditions indicate "a mature El Nino". South east Asia region’s rainfall has shown a clear response to the El Niño development, with observed large-scale drier-than-normal conditions.
"Most of the models predict strong El Nino conditions until the first quarter of 2016, after which it is expected to start to gradually dissipate," the centre said.
The API reading in Kuching today at noon is 92 in Samarahan, 84 in Sri Aman and 78 in Kuching. Upnorth in Miri, it was 27. Visibility in the state capital plunged to 1.5km.