Pahang forest fires nearly put out

Closer view: Ismail onboard a MI17 helicopter inspecting the affected forest areas of Inderapura and Gebeng. — Bernama

KUANTAN: The forest fires at three locations in the state since the end of March are easing with firefighting operations now focused on the Rompin area, says Pahang Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) director Datuk Dr Wan Mohammad Zaidi Wan Isa.

He said the firefighting operation at the Inderapura Agriculture Department, covering 320ha of peatland forest, was completed on Tuesday after more than 10 days of battle.

He said the fire at the 110.5ha peatland forest in Gebeng was also easing as 99% of the area was successfully put out and the firefighting operation is expected to be completed soon.

“In Rompin, through an aerial survey, it was found that there is still a fire but not as big as before and we will use the water bomb and direct attack method,” he told Bernama.

He said that rain in Kuantan and Rompin districts since Tuesday also helped those involved in the operations who have been working hard for the past few weeks to douse fires at the three locations.

Earlier, Bernama joined an aerial survey with Pahang JBPM assistant director (Operations) Ismail Abdul Ghani onboard a MI17 helicopter in the forest areas affected by fire in Inderapura and Gebeng.

Two helicopters were supplied by the Air Division of the JBPM headquarters following the visit of the Sultan of Pahang Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah who suggested using helicopters to carry out water bomb operations to control fires from spreading in areas that are hard to reach by vehicles.

Sultan Abdullah, accompanied by his son Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah, visited the Inderapura Jaya Fire control post on Monday to inspect and get a briefing on the forest fires.

Monitoring and firefighting operations using the MI17 helicopter led by Assistant Superintendent Amir Fitri Salim have been used since Wednesday to douse fires in Gebeng, while the Agusta helicopter was used in Rompin, led by Khirulnizam Jamaludin.

Wan Mohammad Zaidi said JBPM continued monitoring the fire situation regularly during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri period.

“There is no such thing as an Aidilfitri holiday for JBPM. We urge the people not to do anything risky that could result in a fire, especially when the country is still experiencing the El Nino phenomenon, which contributes to forest fires.

“The uncertainty persists as it is the southwest monsoon now where we will experience another long dry and hot weather. Therefore, the community should play a role and if there is a need to burn garden refuse, make sure it is under control and put out properly,” he said.

He also advised those who fish or hunt to put out cigarette butts or campfires properly to ensure there are no embers, as dry materials such as grass and leaves can easily catch fire.

He stated that the state has recorded a total of 712 open burning cases since January.

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