Indonesia: 18 hot spots detected in Sumatra

The Jakarta Post 18 Jan 17;

Forest and land fires have begun to reappear in Sumatra, with 18 hot spots detected on Wednesday morning, the highest number in the wet season of early 2017.

Pekanbaru Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin said Terra and Aqua satellites detected hot spots in West Sumatra (1 spot), Riau (7), North Sumatra (1) provinces.

In Riau, most of the hot spots were detected in Rokan Hulu (3 spots) followed by Pelalawan (2). The rest were detected in Bengkalis and Kuantan Singingi regencies.

“Five hot spots [in Riau] show strong indication of [forest or land] fires,” Sugarin said as quoted by Antara news agency, adding that the five spots were spread in Rokan Hulu (3), Bengkalis (1) and Kuantan Singingi (1).

The BMKG began detecting hot spots in Riau two weeks ago.

West Sumatra on alert over possible forest fires
The Jakarta Post 18 Jan 17;

People in West Sumatra should be on alert for the possibility of forest and land fires as recent lower rainfall had caused warmer than usual weather, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) warned on Wednesday.

BMKG Ketaping office’s observation and information section head Budi Iman Samiaji said there was potential for forest and land fires occurring in West Sumatra as temperatures could reach 34 Celsius degree during the day, with 50 percent humidity at present.

“Several areas that have suffered rampant [forest and land] fires including the eastern part of Limapuluh regency, as well as parts of Sijunjung, Sawahlunto, the central and eastern parts of South Pesisir and the eastern part of South Solok,” Budi said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Previously, West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno reminded people to avoid the slash-and-burn practices to clear land as it was against the law.

Sijunjung Police chief Sr. Comr Dody Pribadi urged residents to stay on alert and anticipate any possible forest fires. “We urge people and [logging] companies together to avoid forest and land fires,” he said.


With 18 hotspots detected, Sumatra braces for forest fires
Today Online 19 Jan 17;

JAKARTA — Indonesian authorities warned people in Sumatra to be on the alert for forest and land fires as 18 hotspots were detected yesterday morning, the highest number this year.

The Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Ketaping office’s observation and information section head Budi Iman Samiaji said there will be less rainfall over Sumatra, especially in its western part, with temperatures forecast to reach 34°C during the day with a humidity of 50 per cent.

As such, there is high possibility that forest and land fires could occur, he said. Ketaping province is located in Western Sumatra.

Already, several regencies such as the eastern part of Limapuluh, parts of Sijunjung, the central and eastern parts of South Pesisir and the eastern part of South Solok are experiencing land and forest fires. These areas are located in Western Sumatra, facing the Indian Ocean.

Sijunjung Police Chief Senior Commander Dody Pribadi encouraged residents be on the alert for any possible fires.

“We urge the people and (logging) companies to avoid forest and land fires,” Jakarta Post quoted him as saying.

According to the Association of South-east Asian Nations Specialised Meteorological Centre, the number of hotspots in Sumatra rose from two on Monday to nine on Tuesday.

BMKG Pekanbaru head Sugarin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said satellites detected 18 hotspots yesterday morning, with seven in Riau province alone.

Other hotspots were detected in West and North Sumatra.

“Five of the hotspots in Riau show strong indication of (forest or land) fires,” Antara news agency quoted Mr Sugarin as saying, adding that the five hotspots were at Rokan Hulu, Bengkalis and Kuantan Singingi regencies.

Haze caused by Indonesian farmers who burn forests to clear their land for agriculture is an annual occurrence that sends smog wafting northwards to Singapore and Malaysia.

In late 2015, Singapore, as well as Malaysia and parts of Thailand, suffered a severe haze that affected tens of millions of people, forcing schools to close and causing thousands to fall sick across the region.

Last week, there were fears that the transboundary haze could return after up to seven hotspots were detected in several regencies in Riau.

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry has said it will dispatch helicopters to Riau and Kalimantan to help maximise ongoing efforts to prevent and control land and forest fires. AGENCIES

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