Belait PSI soars to 84 due to Kg Sg Teraban forest fire

National 2 minutes, 3 seconds


BELAIT recorded a pollutant standard index (PSI) of 84 yesterday morning, the highest observed in any district so far this year, as thick smoke billowed out of 10 hectares of forest hit by fires in Kg Sg Teraban.

Residents in Kg Pandan and Kg Mumong waking early yesterday noticed a hazy skyline and the smell of ash, but by 11am the situation began to gradually clear as smoke emanating from forest fires in Sg Teraban began to lower.

Air quality returned to “good” around mid-day, with the PSI level at 11am dropping to 49, a big improvement from the previous index measured at 9am. By 4pm, it had dropped to 39.

Leading the Fire and Rescue’s on-the-ground effort to control fires in Sg Teraban, Azami Hj Ali said the first real outbreak began on Saturday afternoon.

“We initially fought (the fires) using water from our fire trucks, but as they will eventually empty (and require steady refilling) we used two pumps to tap into the drain water by the side of the road,” said the Kuala Belait Fire Station officer.

As the day progressed, winds brought the remaining smoke inland, motorists travelling to and from the Sg Tujoh border good visibility.

Four jets pumped drain water in an attempt to flood the area, as firefighters trudged through peat swamp with hoses to make sure any remaining embers and smoke near the roadside were put out.

Azami said the drawback of the wind blowing inland was the potential spread of fires into deeper territory, where access and water supply will prevent firefighters from operating effectively.

Meanwhile, three out of the four sectors previously identified by the District Emergency Operation Centre as the most problematic now have smoke emanating out of less than five per cent of the affected area.

The remaining sector, stretching from the 17 to 20KM point along the Seria bypass has smoke levels between 10 to 15 per cent.

The Royal Brunei Police Force also advised motorists using the highway and road stretching from Lumut until Sg Teraban to be cautious of ongoing firefighting operations and poor visibility.

If new fires break out or current conditions worsen, the police may set up cones that turn dual carriageways into single lanes, to allow more space for firefighters to operate.

If visibility becomes severely limited, the police yesterday said that they may set up a road closure, but assured that motorists would be directed to an alternative route to allow them to continue their journey.

The Brunei Times