Malaysia: Fire destroys over 135ha of forest in Terengganu

The Star 22 Apr 16;

KEMAMAN: Over 135ha of forest in the state have been scorched by a blaze that firemen are still struggling to put out due to the drought.

The affected areas included 100ha of the 400ha Teluk Kalung peat swamp area, 5ha of the Kampung Batu 7 peat forest in Dungun, 15ha of the Kampung Chabang peat forest in Kerteh, and 15ha of the Kampung Durian Guling forest in Marang.

State Fire and Rescue Department operations assistant director Khairul Ariffin Che Ramli said firemen had been battling for the past three days to douse the fires which were triggered by the ongoing dry spell.

He said the situation was aggravated by the lack of water sources due to drying rivers.

“Most of the small rivers now have little water as they are drying up due to the prolonged heatwave.

“Some of the ponds are also loca­ted far from the fires,” he said.

Khairul Ariffin said the fires could have been set off by poachers and the clearing of farm land.

Since the start of the heatwave in January, some 890 open-burning cases had been reported, he said.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the cases reported were due to human negligence. Many tend to do farm-clearing and leave it unattended,” he said.

Drop in open burning cases in Johor
The Star 22 Apr 16;

JOHOR BARU: The joint efforts between the Fire and Rescue Department and the local authorities have contributed to the drop in open burning cases in Johor despite the current El Nino heatwave.

In the first three months of this year, 610 cases of open burning were recorded compared to the total of 2,721 cases recorded from January to March last year.

Most of the open burning cases recorded so far this year were forest and bush fires which contributed to 421 of the cases followed by burning of rubbish with 85 cases, and 55 cases of open burning at farms.

Last year, there were a total of 1,804 forest and bush fires, 449 cases of open burning at farms followed by 252 cases of rubbish burning in the same corresponding period.

Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Othman Abdullah attributed the drop to the joint operations that began this year, conducted by his department and the local authorities which included the Land Office.

“The enforcement efforts were also to identify repeat offenders where the land owner would be issued with a warning letter if found conducting open burning activities in the same location more than once.

One of the participants trying on the Fire and Rescue Department tool to cut out car windscreen during the Bomba with the Media community course held at the state Fire and Rescue department headquarters here in Johor Baru on April 13, 2016.
A participant being taught how to break the wind - screen of a car in the event of an emergency.
“So far the Land Office has issued four warning letters, including those in Muar, Kempas in Johor Baru as well as Lepau in Pengerang,” he said when opening the “Bomba with the Media” programme at its headquarters here recently.

He said for the whole of 2015, 4,324 cases of open burning were recorded while 5,144 cases were recorded in 2014.

Meanwhile, Othman said the department aims to establish at least 10 Bomba communities for each of its 28 fire stations in the state to enable more members of the public to be qualified as first responders in the event of emergencies.

“The public are the best first responders when there are emergencies such as kitchen fires or accidents as they can react to the situation first, while waiting for the authorities to arrive.

“This can help prevent fires from spreading and the property from suffering further damage,” he said, adding that there were about 85 certified bomba communities in Johor and another 2,000 people undergoing the free training to be certified.

He said that many people did not take the fire and safety drill seriously, and that this could lead to them suffering losses if and when such cases occurred at their homes or other places.

“Our department welcomes the public to take part in the course, where the participants will be given an insight into the dangers as well as taught what to do for their safety as well as that of others,” he said.

He added that one instance where the people could act fast and independently involved fires in the kitchens.

“During the programme, the participants will be taught how to act in such a situation, such as covering the wok with a wet towel instead of pouring water on the flames and making it worse,” he said.

During the special media course, about 44 members of the media were given an opportunity to be part of the demonstration on how to operate firemen’s tools as well as attend a workshop on how to handle emergency cases.

“Participants were also given the chance to operate radiation detector machines, the department’s water hose and others,” he said.

He added that those who had completed the course would be automatically registered as Bomba Community members.

Othman said about 2,000 participants were undergoing the course statewide while 970 have already been registered as members.

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