KUANTAN (Bernama): Nearly 40 hectares of forest near the Gebeng industrial area here were destroyed in a fire, causing several surrounding areas to be enveloped in smoke.
Pahang Fire and Rescue Department Malaysia (JPBM) director Nor Hisham Mohammad said they received a report at 2.30pm Monday (Feb 25), adding that the fire is believed to have started from the lakeside area near the forest.
"Based on the information obtained from the workers of several factories here, there were many anglers were in the area and we suspect that some of them could have started the fire while fishing.
"The fire is spreading rapidly as the area is a former timber production site.
"We expect to be able to put out the fire within the next two days," he told a media conference here on Tuesday (Feb 26).
Nor Hisham said the operations involved 21 fire officers and personnel as well as 14 volunteers from the Gebeng Emergency Mutual Aid comprising employees of major factories here, namely, Kaneka Malaysia, Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd as well as Petronas Chemical MTBE and also received assistance from Alliance Steel (M) Sdn Bhd.
He said thus far, the operations were using three methods to douse the flames.
These involved building dams to increase the water level in the affected area to prevent the fire from spreading to other locations.
"In addition, we are also monitoring the area using drones to gauge the speed of the fire and wind direction, as well as monitoring the Kuantan-Port shortcut route to ensure that the fire does not spread to the area," he said.
"We have met with representatives of two factories that have workers' hostels here to advise them to take necessary measures such as drinking enough water," he said.
Nor Hisham advised the public not to carry out open burning as JBPM there had been increasing fire reports since last week.
He said 24 reports on fires were received on Saturday, 20 reports on Sunday and 19 reports on Monday, including large-scale fire incidents at a forest near the oil palm plantation in Muadzam Shah and along the Nenasi route near Pekan. – Bernama