Forest fires sweep into Anduki scrapyard

National 2 minutes, 19 seconds

BELAIT

FOREST fires swept into a scrapyard in Anduki yesterday afternoon, igniting a stockpile of hundreds of used tyres that emanated thick, black smoke into Seria’s skyline.

Staff at the scrapyard placed an emergency call to the Fire and Rescue Department at 2.43pm, after noticing forest fires rapidly spreading towards the site.

Once the wall of tyres caught fire, efforts to douse it directly became impossible, with the initial 10 fire fighters deployed focusing their efforts on curtailing the blaze from spreading at the affected perimeter. By 8pm, the blaze had been brought under control, but as of 10pm, the flames had yet to be fully extinguished.

Firefighting efforts were initially hampered by scarce water supply at the site, with the Public Works Department needing to supply water tankers.

The worker’s quarters at the site, where four staff stayed, was spared, thanks to fire fighters successfully curtailing the spread of the fire.

Acting Director of the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) Hj Shaharud-din Hj Anuar warned that fumes from tyre fires were toxic and hazardous to health if breathed in directly.

However since the site in Anduki is relatively isolated from any nearby residential area, the acting director said the toxicity of the fumes would eventually diminish by diffusion into the open air.

“Tyre fires are hazardous because of chemicals (and the oil) contained in them. Thankfully the site is away from residential area, but JASTRe will conduct air quality checks in the surrounding areas (in different kilometre radius) to make sure we know what the air quality is,” said Hj Shaharuddin.

He explained that tires are robust even in situations where they are exposed to heat – but if they do catch fire, prove very difficult to extinguish.

He added that used tyres that are no longer intended for any use, should be separately disposed at JASTRe’s dump sites where they are eventually brought to JASTRE’s tyre dumpsite in Bukit Udal, Tutong.

The Fire and Rescue Commanding Officer of Belait District Branch B Muhd Shareeni Hj Mohd Yusof said that the safety of all firefighters on site was accounted for, with those deployed to directly control the fires wearing specialised masks to mitigate the smoke’s potentially hazardous effects.

Forest fires at several other locations in Seria also continued to emanate smoke, with the 16 to 20km point along the Seria bypass the most prominent.

However as these forest fires are spreading further inward, in the opposite direction of the highway, they are currently not significantly affecting the visibility of motorists along the affected stretch.

Meanwhile along the Mumong bypass, closer to Kuala Belait, separate forest fires are hampering on-road visibility along a small stretch of road less than 50 metres before the highway’s junction leading into Mumong.

The Brunei Times