Sigh of relief in Baram

Good air quality: It

MIRI: Residents in Kuala Baram district have given fire-fighters due praises for having managed to douse the wildfires that had caused widespread air pollution in the past two weeks.

Yesterday, it was blue skies once again in this district of 100,000 people near the Sarawak-Brunei border after the recent wildfires and haze.

The visibility along the Pan Borneo Highway running through the district has also returned to normal.

At the height of the fires that started on March 16, the district was engulfed in heavy smog and ashes, especially at night. Yesterday, Miri Division Fire and Rescue Department chief Supt Law Poh Kiong confirmed to Sarawak Metro that the fires had been extinguished.

“Yes, there are no more wildfires in Kuala Baram. The air quality is good. It is over for now, and we hope there will be no more fires,” he said.

Law said a total of 63 aerial water-bombing sorties had to be conducted over Kuala Baram to help douse the fires from the air.

About 100 fire-fighters had to be deployed round the clock at the sites where the fires were raging.

Chris Lau, a resident living near the E-Mart Commercial Centre, yesterday said that he and his family had been badly affected by the wildfires, along with the thousands of other families in the numerous residential estates in Kuala Baram.

“It was especially difficult at night because the fires were burning even near the highway. Smoke and ashes were everywhere.

“Even switching on the air-conditioner and fans made no difference. I am glad it is over, at least for now,” he said.

The firemen did a great job, he said, adding that it must have been very tough for the brave men to be inside the affected areas for the past two weeks.

“We are grateful to them for their efforts,” he said.

Samuel Chai, a businessman, asked why was it that until today, the Department of Environment and the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board had not managed to nab the culprits who had caused the fires.

“The land where the fires burned belonged to a very big company. Why is it that no punitive action had been taken against the company concerned?

“The owners of the land must be held accountable for the air pollution that had badly affected all of us (residents of Kuala Baram),” he said.

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