Downpour puts out forest fires in six states, air quality improves


  • Nation
  • Monday, 28 Feb 2005

BY FLORENCE A. SAMY AND NG CHENG YEE

PETALING JAYA: It’s blue skies again, thanks to a downpour yesterday morning. 

The air quality in Klang Valley has improved to moderate levels and visibility at most places returned to the normal level of above 10km. 

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said 95% of the fires that had flared up in six states last week had been doused. 

“The five-hour rain (in most parts of the country) from 3am to 8am on Sunday has put out fires on 8,709.94ha of the 9,177.2ha of land affected. 

The smiles on the cutouts on a huge billboard in Kuala Lumpur seem to celebrate the clear skies that returned to the Klang Valley Sunday. The picture above was taken at 4.20pm Sunday. It shows how much the air quality has improved after the downpour earlier in the morning, compared to the picture on the right, which was taken on Friday, when the top of the KL Tower and Maxis building behind the figures could hardly be seen because of the thick haze.

“The fires will be completely put out within two days if there are no new cases,” he told reporters after attending MCA's 56th anniversary celebrations at Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.  

Ong said that in Selangor, the state worst hit by the fires, 95% of the 7,805ha of land ablaze in the Raja Muda Forest Reserve in Batang Berjuntai, had been doused by the rain and the increased efforts of firefighters, while the fires in Kuala Rompin (Pahang) and Kuala Betis, Gua Musang (Kelantan) had been completely put out. 

In Perak, he said, 48ha of the 58ha of fires at a forest in Grik had been put out while the 50ha fire at a forest reserve in Gunung Korbu had all been doused, he added. 

In Lobok Bakul in Pagoh, Muar, only 7ha of the 24ha of land affected was still burning. 

Ong said the Fire and Rescue Department would continue its efforts to put out the fires and ensure they would not be rekindled before firefighters withdrew from the affected areas. 

A spokesman for the Department of Environment’s operations room said as at 7pm yesterday, only Bukit Rambai in Malacca recorded an unhealthy air quality level. 

The other nine locations that registered unhealthy air quality levels on Saturday – Kuala Lumpur, Gombak, Petaling Jaya, Kajang, Shah Alam, Port Klang, Putrajaya, Malacca City and Nilai – improved to moderate. 

A Meteorological Services Department officer said heavy rainfall was recorded in Selangor, Johor, Pahang, and Malacca yesterday morning. 

In Selangor, Subang registered 29mm of rainfall while Petaling Jaya had 15mm. Malacca had 30mm, Kluang 26mm and Kuantan 55mm. 

“There may be isolated thunderstorms and showers in the next few days in most states in the peninsula, including the states affected by the fires,” the officer said. 

On cloud seeding, she said the department would monitor the situation today and see if it was still necessary.  

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