Malaysia: Rains help douse Sabah forest fires

MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 12 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: After burning for weeks, the fires in the Binsuluk Forest Reserve and the Trusmadi Forest Reserve have finally been put out, thanks to the annual inter-monsoon rains.

The rains – though far less than in previous years – over the weekend put out the fires at the two forest reserves in Beaufort and interior Keningau, lifting the haze that had been plaguing the areas.

However, more rain is needed to bring back the traditional water sources from wells and streams.

“Most areas in Sabah have received rains with the setting in of the inter-monsoon over the weekend. We expect rains to continue until the end of this week,” said Sabah Meteorological acting director Lim Ze Hui in an interview.

However, he warned that the El Nino was still an influencing factor over the amount of rain that the state would receive in the coming days.

“The El Nino is at its weakening stage but it will be the cause of less rainfall in April and May until its impact is neutralised in June,” he said, adding that isolated rains and scattered thunderstorms could be expected within the week in all areas of Sabah and Labuan.

At the peat swamp fire in Binsuluk Forest Reserve, the firemen finally wound down their operations on Sunday.

The fire, which had been burning since March 29, destroyed nearly 70% of the 12,000ha swamp forest reserve.

Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Department deputy director Khairul Azuwan Ibrahim said most of the blaze had been put out but local teams would keep a close eye on any remaining underground fires.

The fire in the Trumadi forest reserve area, which started about a week ago, has already been doused by the rains although mopping-up operations will continue with the Forestry Department personnel.

“Aerial surveys to check over the forest area are also being carried out,” Khairul said.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin visited interior Keningau to assess the damage, which saw large tracts of vegetable farms, orchards and oil palm plantations destroyed by fires or due to the lack of water.

Yahya said the state government was currently assessing the damage and would take the necessary steps to help the farmers.

2,940 Forest, Bush Fire Outbreaks Recorded In 10 Days
Bernama 11 Apr 16

MARANG, April 11 (Bernama) -- The Malaysia Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) recorded 2,940 forest and bush fire outbreaks in the first 10 days of this month.

Its director-general, Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim said the number showed an increase over the same period last year and he did not dismiss the El Nino phenomenon as a cause, besides human factors such as carrying out open burning.

"Last year, 1,708 forest and bush fires were recorded in a month, but within 10 days (in April, this year), the number reached almost 3,000, which is rather high.

"In March alone, 8,914 cases were reported nationwide," he said after the launching of the Emergency Response Team (ERT), here, Monday.

According to him, within the 10 days, Sabah recorded the highest number of cases at 457, followed by Johor (380), Perak (353) and Kedah (255).

He said in 2014, there was a decline in the number of cases and most of the forest fire outbreaks only occurred around February until March.

"We find there is on-going lack of public awareness as open burning still occurs and some do it to open up land for agriculture and other purposes," he said.

Wan Mohd Nor said JBPM encouraged premises owners, industries and hotels to set up the ERT to provide quick early response to fire outbreaks and other emergency situations.

"If before this, the ERT was only established at the premises already determined such as big industrial plants and hotels with 50 rooms and above, now this is encouraged at other premises," he said.

To date, 1,900 such premises out of 7,30O nationwide have established their own ERT.

Wan Mohd Nor said there was also the need for industrial plants to instal an automatic fire communication system link with the fire stations for quick action in case of a fire outbreak.

He said losses incurred due to fire outbreaks last year amounted to RM4.4 billion, with almost 70 per cent of the cases involving factories.

Meanwhile, Pahang JBPM director, Datuk Abd Wahab Mat Yasin said he expected the forest fire near Sungai Ular, Kuantan to be completely put out in another two days.

He said fire on about 100 acres of the forest area had been doused while the fire-fighting operation was still on at another 70 acres.

The fire that broke out last Thursday had spread to the centre of the forest, causing difficulties to the firemen to put out the fire.

The operation is being assisted by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) through aerial spraying of water using its Bombardier CL 415 MP.

Although the investigation into the cause of the fire is on-going, Abd Wabab did not dismiss the possibility of a thrown cigarette butt as the cause.


MetMalaysia: Inter-monsoon season is starting
The Star 12 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: Seasonal heavy rains are falling but the sweltering heat which forced school closures for a day in parts of the peninsula is set to continue for now, said the Malay­sian Meteorological Department.

A MetMalaysia officer said the inter-monsoon season had set in last week with west coast states expe­riencing heavy rainfall in the past few days.

“But it did not help to lower the high temperature readings over northern and central peninsula and Sabah,” he told The Star.

Schools in Perlis, as well as the Jerantut and Temerloh districts in Pahang closed yesterday as temperatures there exceeded 37°C over a 72-hour period.

The closure announced by the Education Ministry was a precautionary measure to safeguard the health of pre-school, primary and secondary pupils in the affected areas.

MetMalaysia said that the public could expect more frequent rain with thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening, especially the west coast states, west Sabah and Sa­­ra­wak as the inter-monsoon progress­ed.

“As for Klang Valley, afternoon thunderstorm is expected in the next few days,” he added.

The highest temperatures yesterday (as of 1pm) were recorded Chu­ping, Perlis (36°C) along with Kuantan and Alor Setar (35°C).

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