Miri forest fires force road closure

, National 1 minute, 24 seconds


FOREST fires rapidly spread across Kuala Baram in Miri yesterday afternoon, severely hampering visibility levels and leading to slow moving traffic.

A road closure was set up around 8pm yesterday along the Miri-Baram highway, to ensure the safety of motorists and allow firefighting efforts to continue unhindered, according to Miri Zone Fire and Rescue Department Team Supervisor Roslan Jam.

Approximately 200 acres were affected by the fires, with a giant, billowing cloud of smoke easily visible from Kuala Belait.

There were no injuries associated with the fires, although at least one accident involving a Bruneian car was recorded. The road closure will remain in effect until fires subside.

Miri Zone's Fire Chief Senior Superintendent Law Poh Kiong said that fires began to spread “out of control” yesterday noon due to strong winds, with roads – which typically serve as “firebreaks – unable to contain fires from spreading.

“Normally roads and drains act as natural fire breakers, cutting off the spread of forest fires to the opposite side of road, but with strong winds they could not stop the fire from spreading rapidly,” said Law yesterday on the sidelines of his department's operation in Kuala Baram.

The Miri Zone Fire and Rescue Department are encouraging the public to use Jln Lutong as an alternative.

All districts in Brunei except for Temburong recorded Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) readings above 50 at press time.

PSI readings posted on the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) website yesterday read 52 for Brunei-Muara, 64 for Belait and 67 for Tutong.

Temburong recorded a PSI reading of 25. It was the only district recorded with “good” air quality.

PSI readings below 50 are termed as good while readings between 50 and 100 are moderate.

The Brunei Times