Forest fires force Sg Teraban fuel station to close

National 1 minute, 58 seconds

BELAIT

FOREST fires came dangerously close to Koperasi Kg Sg Teraban's fuel station early yesterday morning, forcing them to delay opening for four hours before firefighters were able to control the blaze from spreading.

The fuel station’s workers alerted authorities shortly past 4am, after they noticed smoke gradually blanketing the station, which typically opens for business at 6am.

Managers of the station Hj Ali Mat and Hj Kipli Hj Omarali decided against opening the store until 10.30am, after 13 firefighters operating from two trucks were able to douse the fires and limit the smoke emanating from the immediate perimeter.

“When we saw the threat, we followed the safety protocol for such situations; turning off the pump, closing the gates and diverting the oil tanker,” said Hj Kipli.

Hj Ali pointed to the station’s rear fencing, where vegetation just centimetres away had been burned.

“We have to thank the firefighters for working hard to bring the fires under control. Without their efforts, it could have been a lot worse,” said Hj Ali.

Prior to yesterday's situation, forest fires in Sg Teraban had been gradually reducing, with the Fire and Rescue Commanding Officer of Belait District Branch B informing that smoke levels were only emanating from 10 per cent of the affected area.

However a dry and hot Sunday, and windy conditions early Monday morning, caused the fires to reignite and spread.

“We relied on the fire hydrant and water tankers to fight the fires earlier. Our men are continuing to monitor the situation, to make sure the petrol station and the surrounding area is safe,” Muhd Shareeni.

The commanding officer also updated that the hot and dry spell of weather over the weekend has seen forest fires reignite, in varying degrees, across the four problematic areas identified in Febuary.

Forest fires at the main area affected along the Seria bypass were seen spreading further inward, against the direction of the highway.

However, further towards Kuala Belait, on the Mumong bypass, a small stretch of road before the junction entering Mumong had limited visibility due to winds blowing smoke from forest fires opposite the road.

“If the visibility reduces further, along a longer stretch of road, we may have to work with the police to effect a closure. But for the time being we focus on managing and controlling the situation,” said Muhd Shareeni.

The Brunei Times