Water bomb copter used to fight bushfires

, , National 3 minutes, 4 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN/ BELAIT

BUSHFIRES broke out at a number of areas in the Brunei-Muara and Belait districts yesterday.

In Brunei-Muara, a few hot spots were attended to in the Mukim Gadong “A”, including the forest areas near Jerudong International School (JIS) and the DST headquarters in Tungku Link.

Deputy Commanding Officer of Fire and Rescue Operations “C” Branch, Nooraflan Awang Kachi said that a total of 30 firefighters, five fire engines and a Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) helicopter were deployed to handle the bushfire.

He added that the Fire and Rescue department received a distress call as early as 11am, reporting bushfires within housing areas including Simpang 113, Simpang 127-41 and Simpang 267 of Kg Rimba.

Following this, three fire engines from the Fire and Rescue Operations C Branch were deployed, along with firefighters from the Women Operations Unit, Berakas Fire Station and the Rimba Fire Station.

“Looking at the close distance between the bushfires and housing areas, we had to get assistance from the Fire and Rescue Operations “A” branch in order to extinguish the fire as soon as possible, fearing that it might endanger residents,” he said.

Another bushfire however broke out in later in the afternoon nearby the JIS and DST headquarters, with Nooraflan confirming that firefighters from the Operations “F” Branch arriving at the scene before 3.30pm.

Nooraflan said that firefighters from the Operations “F” Branch, specifically from the Jerudong Fire Station were deployed as all of the the Operations “C” Branch’s manpower were deployed to handle the bushfire within the housing areas.

On the scene, a helicopter belonging to the RBAirF was seen dropping water bombs onto the affected areas.

The area, said Nooraflan is considered vast, and he feared that the fire would spread further if left unattended, estimating that more than a hectare of land was affected.

“The main cause of this fire is confirmed to be due to the irresponsible burning at the dumping site area (in front of JIS), which was fanned by strong winds to nearby areas,” he added.

This, he said, is also the same with the fire at housing areas, which he attributed to irresponsible open burning left unattended.

When The Brunei Times called him around 9.30pm last night, Nooraflan said the fire was still raging around the areas nearby the JIS. “As of this time, the firefighters are currently on standby at the DST Headquarters, ready to protect its telecommunication tower, as it is considered an important “asset” of the country,” he said.

Alhamdulillah, so far there are no reported casualties, both from residents at the housing areas, and from the firefighters manning the operation,” he added.

Meanwhile in Belait, 25 fire fighters battled over seven hours to bring down a forest fire under control along the Lumut highway yesterday, allowing a road closure at the 30KM point set up at 10am to be lifted by 3.17pm.

Belait's Fire and Rescue requested the Traffic Control and Investigation Department under the Royal Brunei Police Force to set up the closure, about 1.5 kilometres long, to allow them to operate unhindered and ensure motorists' safety amid poor visibility.

With the 17 to 20KM point along the Seria bypass the only remaining stretch of forest still emanating smoke across 10 per cent of its affected area, Sunday's operation at the Lumut forest fire was key to prevent another area from potentially spiralling out of control.

Fire and Rescue Commanding Officer of Belait District Branch B, Muhd Shareeni Hj Mohd Yusof said two hectares had been affected opposite the 30KM point of the Lumut bypass leading to Tutong.

Firemen sourced their water from a borrow pit on the opposite side of the road using a specialised pump.

The Brunei Times