Indonesia: Fires burn hundreds of hectares in Riau

The Jakarta Post 22 Mar 16;

The Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency Edwar Sanger said on Monday that fires had destroyed hundreds of hectares of peatland in the province since the middle of last month, but that 706 hectares had been extinguished.

Edwar said that the fires were due to an dry season hitting areas such as Dumai, Meranti Islands, Bengkalis, Pelalawan, Siak, Rokan Hilir, Indragiri Hulu and Indragiri Hilir earlier than western parts of the province.

He said that the worst fire had burned 300 hectares of peatland in Meranti, but it had been extinguished.

He said no hotspots were detected in the province on Monday, thanks to rain and work of firefighters.

However, he said, the agency predicted that the dry season would worsen in the future, increasing the possibility of fires.

To anticipate fires, he said that his agency had asked the National Disaster Mitigation Agency to send helicopters to help extinguish fires through water bombing operations.

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