Ongoing forest, peat land fires escalate hazy conditions
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
HAZY conditions affecting the Brunei-Muara and Belait districts yesterday were attributed to forest fires and peat land fires.
According to a spokeperson from the Fire and Rescue Department, there were forest fires affecting the Rimba, Sg Tilong and Jerudong areas in the Brunei-Muara district yesterday.
A total of 15 firemen and three fire engines were dispatched from the Rimba Fire Station to handle the forest fire which blazed near some homes in Rimba, he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commanding Officer of Fire and Rescue Operations ‘C’ Branch, Nooraflan Awang Kachi said that it is estimated a total of 60 hectares of land was affected by the fires yesterday.
He told The Brunei Times that around 40 hectares of land was affected in Sg Tilong, while 10 hectares were affected in Rimba and one hectare in Jerudong.
A Royal Brunei Air Force helicopter was also deployed to assist in combating the fires by dropping 17 water bombs altogether at affected areas, he added. Nooraflan said that FRD have been fighting the forest fire at Sg Tilong since Monday when they received a distress call around 12 noon.
“The fire initially sparked at forests nearby Pengiran Anak Puteri Hajah Masna Secondary School and Department of Co-curriculum Education which spreads further to Sg Tilong,” he said, adding that they are going to continue the operation today as the 'peat fire' is still raging in the area.
At 2pm yesterday, the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) listed on the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) website charted 67 for the Brunei-Muara district and 55 for the Belait district.
PSI readings below 50 are termed “good” while those between 50 and 100 are “moderate”.
However, at 4pm, the PSI readings for the Brunei-Muara and Belait districts had dropped to 58 and 50, respectively.
According to a JASTRe representative, the moderate PSI readings yesterday were due to the forest fires occurring in Brunei.
When asked, the representative said that the department had not detected any significant hotspots in neighbouring countries yesterday which could have contributed to the moderate PSI readings in Brunei. She also reminded members of the public to refrain from conducting open burning activities at all times, which can exacerbate ongoing hazy conditions.
The Brunei Times