Air support deployed to douse flames
HELICOPTERS of the British Garrison have been called in to drop water bombs and conduct air surveillance over continuing forest and peat fires in Belait.
The garrison's involvement is the latest addition to joint efforts under the Belait District’s Disaster Management Centre (DDMC), as it looks to quell rapidly spreading fires.
“The British Garrison is assisting us in the surveying of the affected areas and dropping of water bombs with the purpose of slowing down the speed of which the fire is currently spreading,” said the Fire and Rescue Commanding Officer of Belait District Branch B, Muhd Shahreeni Hj Mohd Yussof.
He said small improvements have been made, but thick smoke – which peaked at 3pm yesterday – continues to emanate along the Seria-Mumong bypass, reducing visibility to very low levels at several points. The bypass will remain closed from 8.30am to 4pm, to allow firefighters to operate safely and unhindered. The bypass is open after 4pm.
Belait’s Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) yesterday was the highest of all four districts, registering 71, while Tutong, Temburong and Brunei-Muara registered PSIs of 40, 18 and 15 respectively. The reading of 71 was a slight reduction from Wednesday's index of 73.
The Commanding Officer said; “The challenge we are facing this whole operation so far is getting continuous water supply. For example, after only an hour, the tanker which delivers water into our makeshift dam will empty.” At the moment the forest fires do not pose a threat to residential areas, but the commanding officer says the situation is being closely monitored.
The Brunei Times