Indonesia: Disaster Agency declares six provinces in emergency of forest fires

Antara 23 Aug 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said six of Indonesian provinces are in emergency of forest and bush fires.

"BNPB, therefore, has put into operation eight water bombing helicopters," chief spokesman of the agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said here on Tuesday.

The six provinces are Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan.

Sutopo said it is feared the worst of dry season is yet to come, adding normally in September forest fires are more devastating.

Sumatra and Kalimantan always had the largest number of hot spots from August until October with the worst in September, he warned.

The West Kalimantan Governor has even extended the emergency period until November for that province, he added.

"The declaration of emergency status would give BNPB and its regional units easier access to potential sources in its efforts to mobilize fire fighting forces," he said.

Currently, BNPB already has in its disposal eight units of water bombing helicopters, two units of water bombing fixed wing aircraft and another two planes for artificially made rain.

"Three of the water bombing helicopters, two water bombing fixed planes and a a CASA plane for artificial rains would be placed in Riau," he said.

Riau has always been the most devastated by forest and peat land fires, which comes almost every year.

Sutopo said this year , preparations in dealing with the forest fire emergency situation is better than in previous years.

"In 2015, preparation and action came late in dealing with forest and bush fires resulting in greater difficulties in poutting out the fires," he said. (*)

Dry season to peak in September, aircraft prepared to tackle fires
The Jakarta Post 23 Aug 16;

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) is preparing water-bombing aircraft to anticipate haze problems, following the emergency status declared by at least six provinces, with the dry season predicted to peak in September.

The six provinces are Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. September would be the peak of the dry season this year, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Tuesday. As part of preemptive actions, the provinces declared the alert status earlier than last year, when Indonesia suffered its worst forest and land fires.

"Usually September is the peak of forest and land fires when more hot spots are detected," he said as quoted by kompas.com.

In order to tackle worsening forest and land fires, the BNPB has prepared eight helicopters and two aircraft for water bombing and two Cassa airplanes for artificial rain across the six provinces.

"A total of 21.7 million liters of water has been used by the water-bombing aircraft to put out forest and land fires from April 1 to present," Sutopo said.

Around 2,937 hectares of forest and land fires in Riau had been put out by ground personnel, he said. The Riau Police have named 85 people as suspects for allegedly clearing land by burning, which resulted in haze problems from January through August.

Indonesia suffers annually from forest and peatland fires resulting from slash-and-burn practices for clearing land. The worst haze crisis happened last year when at least 19 people died and 500,000 people suffered acute respiratory illnesses. (rin)

Soldier missing after forest fire in Riau
Jakarta Post 23 AUg 16;

Indonesian Military (TNI) soldier Pvt. First Class Wahyudi remains missing four days after helping to extinguish a forest fire in the Riau regency of Rokan Hilir.

Wira Bima Military Command chief and Riau Land and Forest Fire Task Force commander Brig. Gen. Nurendi went to the location where Wahyudi went missing and led search efforts involving a joint team from the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the TNI, the National Police and local residents.

“The search has not been fruitful yet. I have instructed the Wira Bima Military Command to hold a joint prayer at each unit pleading to Almighty God that Wahyudi will soon be found,” said Nurendi on Monday.

Apart from a conventional search, Nurendi said various methods to track Wahyudi’s whereabouts had been employed, including cell phone signal tracking technology and soothsayers, because locals believed Wahyudi had been hidden by spirits disturbed by the fires that hit the region.

Wahyudi went missing during a firefighting mission in Medan hamlet, Labuhan Tangga Besar village, Bangko district, on Friday.

At around 3 p.m. local time, Wahyudi and two of his colleagues were replacing a piece of fire-extinguishing equipment with a larger device. Wahyudi then returned to the forest to collect a small hose that had been left behind. He is believed to have become engulfed in thick smoke and to have lost his way back to his colleagues.

Fires detected again in lands owned by companies given SP3
Antara 23 Aug 16;

Photo document dated August 10, 2015 on the condition of land burned in oil palm concession company in Pelalawan, Riau, as evidence of the police in case of fires in Riau. (ANTARA/Deputi Direskrimsus Polda Riau AKBP Ari Rahman Nafarin-HO)
Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Environmentalist organizations said fires have been detected again in lands owned by eight companies given SP3 (order to stop investigation) over cases of forest fires in Riau by police.

Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) and Jaringan Kerja Penyelamat Hutan Riau (Jikalahari) said almost every year fires hit land owned by plantation and forestry companies in the province.

Police have granted SP3 over last years forest fire cases of 15 companies and now fires have been detected again in lands owned by eight of the companies, deputy coordinator of Jikalahari Made Ali said here on Tuesday.

The eight companies are PT Dexter Perkasa Industri Indonesia, PT Siak Raya Timber, PT Bina Duta Laksana, PT Perawang Sukses Perkasa Industri, PT Ruas Utama Jaya, PT Huta Sola Lestari, PT Suntara Gajah Pati and PT Sumatera Riang Lestari.

Walhi executive director Riko Kurniawan said the police decision in granting SP3 was a big mistake, as proven by the repeat of wrong doing committed by the companies.

The companies dared to use fires for land clearing as they have always escaped the law, observers said.

Police said a number of individuals have been named suspects but none of the companies are named suspect.

"Yes, it was true. We have named 85 individual suspects. No corporation is among the suspects yet," Riau police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Guntur Aryo Tejo said.

Earlier deputy chairman of the commission III of the House of Representatives Benny K Harman strongly demanded state police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to give explanation of the SP3 issued by Riau police chief Brig.Gen. Supriyanto.

"The state police chief has to openly give reasons for SP3," Benny said in Jakarta.

He also asked President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to summon the state police chief to explain the decision as the cases have national and international dimensions.

However, after a meeting later with the the Riau police chief Benny said the Commission respected the reasons given by the general in issuing order to drop forest fire cases involving the 15 companies.

"The Commission III respects and supports the Riau police in resolving the legal cases of forest fires," he said.
(Uu.H-ASG/O001)

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