Indonesia: Fire spots spring up in W. Kalimantan

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 4 Jul 16;

Dozens of fire spots have been detected in several regencies across West Kalimantan, one of the areas heavily affected by thick haze from land and forest fires in previous years.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) office at Supadio International Airport in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, stated on Monday that as of 6 a.m. local time, its MODIS satellite detected 15 fire spots in seven out of 14 regencies and municipalities across the province.

Four fire spots were detected in Bengkayang while three fire spots were found in Ketapang, the report said. Sintang and Sambas identified two fire spots each while four other regencies, comprising Kapuas Hulu, Kubu Raya, Landak and Sanggau, detected one fire spot each.

Today’s report shows fires have continued to spread in West Kalimantan as it recorded only 13 fire spots on Sunday.

West Kalimantan Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head TTA Nyarong said the government had raised the emergency level of haze for the province to high alert as of June 1. Last year, 74,000 hectares of peat land were set ablaze, making the haze disaster even worse.

“We are investigating to see whether the fire spots have emerged on plantation concession areas or on people’s land,” said Nyarong. He said the BPBD had not yet received a response to a letter, which questioned whether 74,000 hectares of peat land burned last year were on plantation concession areas, it had sent to the plantation directorate general.

A haze disaster emergency team has been set up at the provincial level to anticipate haze events, which may have adverse health and economic impacts. Currently, only Mempawah and Kapuas Hulu regencies have established a haze disaster emergency team. (ebf)

Number of Forest Fire Hotspots Increases Ahead of Idul Fitri Holiday
Antara 4 Jul 16;

Jakarta. The Indonesian space agency has recorded an increase in the number of forest fire hotspots ahead of the Idul Fitri holidays.

Based on observations by the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan) with the Modis satellite, 288 hotspots have been detected with a moderate (30 percent-79 percent) to high (80 percent or higher) confidence level on Sunday (03/07).

Of those, 245 with a 30-percent confidence level were found on Sumatra Island, spread out across the provinces of Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau, Bengkulu, Jambi, Lampung and South Sumatra.

Members of the Integrated Forest Fire Taskforce in Riau have made embarked on efforts to put out the fires, while the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) allocated two helicopters and two aircraft specially adapted for firefighting.

Meanwhile, forest fires in Kuala Kampar, Riau, covering areas of up to nine hectares, are being put out by officials on foot.

Officials are also still trying to put out fires in the Tesso Nelo National Park in Riau, while in West Sumatra, forest fires have been burning for two days in locations that have been difficult to identify.

Forest fires covering areas of up to 25 hectares have been put out in various locations in Tampung and Pekanbaru in Riau since Saturday.

The locations of the forest fires, combined with dry conditions and poor accessibility to water, have made it difficult to put out.

With dry weather expected between July and September, officials predict that there will be a marked increase in the number of forest fire hotspots.

BNPB head Willem Rampangilei has ordered the provincial disaster mitigation agency to increase its efforts to extinguish forest fires, as the effects are detrimental, especially in the holiday period.

He also stated that prevention activities must be increased as it is more effective than putting out fires.

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