Indonesia: Satellites detect 365 hotspots across Sumatra

Antara 17 Aug 16;

Pekanbaru, Riau, Aug 17 (Antara) - The Terra and Aqua satellites of NASA have detected a total of 365 hotspots across Sumatra Island on Wednesday morning, a drastic increase from 92 recorded on the previous day.

Some 278 hotspots were found in Riau Province, Slamet Riyadi, spokesman of the Pekanbaru meteorology office, stated here, Wednesday, quoting data released by Indonesias National Institute of Aeronautics and Space.

As many as 42 hotspots were detected in North Sumatra, 27 in Bangka Belitung, seven in South Sumatra, five in Jambi, four in West Sumatra, and two in Riau Islands.

In Riau Province, 278 hotspots were detected in 10 districts and cities, including 123 hotspots in Rokan Hilir, 36 in the Meranti Island District, 28 in Siak, 22 in Bengkalis, and 20 in Dumai.

Of the 278 hotspots, 192 were confirmed to have originated from forest, peatland, and plantation fires.

Chief of the Wirabima 031 Sub-regional Military Command Brigadier General Nurendi said he has deployed some 100 military personnel to help extinguish the wildfires in Rokan Hilir.

In the meantime, hotspots indicating forest, peatland and plantation fires have been detected in several provinces in Indonesia lately.

Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan have declared an emergency alert status in anticipation of land and forest fires, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

"The other provinces prone to land and forest fires are South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan and North Sumatra, but they have not declared an emergency status alert," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB spokesman, stated.

"The other provinces prone to land and forest fires are South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan and North Sumatra, but they have not declared an emergency status alert," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB spokesman, said.

Following the declaration of such an alert, the BNPB will lend assistance to regional disaster mitigation offices in the five provinces in addressing land and forest fires, he stated.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) recently led a cabinet meeting on forest fires, and passed orders for immediate action to prevent forest fires from spreading and become uncontrollable.

Firemen work round the clock to control forest fires in Riau
Channel NewsAsia 17 Aug 16;

KUALA LUMPUR/JAKARTA: A special fire fighting team has been ordered to work round the clock to monitor forest fires at 74 hotspots in Indonesia's Riau province, Sumatra.

The forest fires, in oil palm plantations, are reported to have affected neighbouring Malaysia, causing the air quality in several states to deteriorate. In Malaysia, 31 areas recorded a moderate Air Pollutant Index (API) reading at 5pm on Wednesday (Aug 17), with one further area (Tanjung Malim) recording an unhealthy API reading of 110.

An API reading of 0 to 50 indicates good air quality; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy and 300 and above, hazardous.

On Tuesday, Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the situation in Malaysia was influenced by transboundary haze due to land and forest fires in central Sumatra brought by the Southwest Monsoon winds.

Riau police chief Supriyanto was reported by local media as saying that the special team, consisting of firemen, police, the army and navy, had been able to control the fire at 50 hotspots and was working to control the fire at other hotspots.

These included Bengkalis, Kotamadya Dumai, Meranti Island, Pelalawan, Rokan Hulu and Siak.

He said various techniques, including water bombing, were used by the team to fight the fire.

According to reports on Tuesday from the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre based in Singapore, the number of hotspots in Indonesia had been increasing over the last few days.

- Bernama/nc

Forest fire cases dropped significantly in 2016
Antara 17 Aug 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo has claimed that the number of forest fire cases dropped by 78 percent as of August this year, compared to last year.

"In 2016, there has been a drastic decrease of up to 76 percent in the number of such cases," the minister said on the home affairs ministrys website, Tuesday.

The significant drop was a result of the hard work of regional heads and security personnel, and was also attributed to the enhanced awareness on the part of plantation companies managers, he added.

Integrated and early fire detection and extinguishing systems have also been applied up to the rural area level.

Village chiefs in eight areas, where local customs allowed slash and burn farming methods, were able to adopt new ways, thanks to the governments public awareness campaign.

The role played by the regional governments, supported by the military, the police, various companies and the community, proved crucial to tackling the problem, Kumolo stated.

"In addition to the active role played by the state apparatus and the community, involving timber plantation concession holders (HTI) helped put in place important preventive measures," he noted.

The National Police claimed that they handled 105 forest fire cases across Indonesia up to August 2016.

In 2015, the National Police had handled 275 forest fire cases, including those involving nine companies that are still under the investigation process.(*)

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