A dropped match – and 60 firemen battle for four weeks

PUTRAJAYA: A single match is dropped in a peat soil forest reserve. And 60 firemen have to spend four weeks battling to put out the blaze.

The Fire and Rescue Department operation in the South Kuala Langat forest reserve, where the biggest fire in Peninsular Malaysia is currently being put out, is unfortunately just one of 142 fires the department had to respond to yesterday, mostly as a result of open burning.

Most cases were sparked by farmers using the dry season to clear their land.

The hot weather and lack of rain easily turn small open burning cases into uncontrollable infernos.

Although firemen say it is all part of their job, these are all preventable fires caused by irresponsible people.

Responding to these also takes time and manpower away from the department, which would rather focus on fire and rescue operations that endanger human lives.

“Here, the only victims are us and the environment,” said the department’s deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid.

Open burning cases have spiked in the country since the heatwave began in February. This month alone, firemen responded to 6,831 open burning cases, with Selangor and Johor accounting for the highest number.

There were 7,887 cases reported in March and 2,785 cases in February.

Three hotspots were recorded in the country yesterday, all in the coastal areas of Pahang.

Yet firemen said more fires were occurring inland, in peat soil and farm lands, suggesting that these fires were caused by humans.

Terengganu had the most number of fires as a result of open burning, with 32 cases.

The biggest fire there was in Kerteh, Kemaman, where 22ha of peat soil land caught fire due to land clearing.

Other peat soil fires in Dungun and Bukit Layat Setiu were also caused by open burning.

Kelantan reported 27 bush and forest fires due to open burning, while Selangor reported 21.

A total of 363 firemen and 44 fire trucks were deployed to put out these fires yesterday.

These fires have been touted as the cause of the haze around Peninsular Malaysia’s central region.

firemen , peat fire , haze