Showers bring relief to Seria’s forest fire hot spots

National 1 minute, 51 seconds


PERIODIC showers throughout Thursday have temporarily brought forest fires in four problematic spots in Seria under control and dramatically reduced the amount of emanating smoke.

Rain was first recorded before dawn yesterday and continued throughout much of the day until the afternoon.

Smoke in three of the four affected areas fell from 60 per cent earlier this week to 10 per cent and below yesterday, according to the Fire and Rescue Commanding Officer of Belait District Branch B, Muhd Shareeni Hj Mohd Yusof.

The three kilometres on the Seria bypass leading to the main junction into Seria town, however, still have smoke levels of 20 to 25 per cent.

“Sector 3 (KM 17 to 20 Seria bypass) still has smoke emanating from the peat land, so our men continue to be deployed to flood these areas with water,” he said.

KM 91 to 92 on the Seria-Lumut bypass and the forest opposite the roadside of the Badas pipeline are at eight and 10 per cent, while the area near the Lorong Tengah National Housing Scheme is the lowest, at five per cent.

Muhd Shareeni said that if rainy conditions persist over the next few days as predicted by forecasts, the situation will be fully brought under control.

“However, the risk of fire (hitting these areas) is still there if dry weather returns,” he said.

He pointed out that besides dry weather, the pressing concern is the continued presence of people who smoke while they fish nearby affected areas who risk undoing the progress already made to control the fires.

A man in white coveralls spotted by the paper smoking yesterday while fishing opposite the Seria bypass has already been reported to the police, said the commanding officer.

Muhd Shareeni and fire station commanders in Belait have previously highlighted that while forest fires have a higher tendency to break out and spread rapidly during dry spells, human action is believed to be the determining cause of fires.

“The first batch of fires were first noted at night, without direct sunlight. It’s most likely that people fishing in the area are improperly disposing of their cigarette butts or starting campfires that they fail to properly put out after they’re done,” said station commander of Sg Liang Muhd Ali Hassan.

The Brunei Times