Indonesia: Number of hotspots growing in Indonesia

Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 30 Jul 17;

JAKARTA: Indonesia has detected a growing number of hotspots as intense dry weather condition continues.

In a statement on Sunday (Jul 30), the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said satellite images from the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) showed that the number of hotspots increased from 173 on Thursday to 239 on Sunday.

In the peatland areas, 126 of the hotspots were detected in the West Kalimantan province, with the majority of them in the Sintang, Kapuas Hulu and Sanggau districts.

"Clearing of land by burning is still prevalent in these areas,” said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. “Even though it is not allowed, appeals are often made and we conduct patrols, the reality is there are still many cases of intentional land burning."

Satellite images from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) also showed that slight haze had spread to a number of areas in West Kalimantan.

BNPB said ground personnel - consisting of members from the military, police, and firefighter brigades - are combating the forest fires, but are facing difficulties in gaining access to the fires, with limited water and equipment. The agency added that the peak of the dry season is expected to last until September and the threat of more forest fires may increase.

It had on Wednesday said that five provinces were on emergency alert for the spread of forest fires in peatland. These are Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan.

Meanwhile, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said the forest fires that have spread in the West Aceh district for almost a week have been put out.

"But, we have asked that the team on the ground to be on standby because the fires may ignite again," she told reporters in West Sumatra on Saturday according to news portal detik.com.


Indonesia deploys copters to fight West Kalimantan fires
Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja Straits Times 31 Jul 17;

Indonesia's disaster management agency (BNPB) has deployed four helicopters to West Kalimantan province to carry out water bombing operations in areas affected by raging forest fires that have intensified in recent days amid a dry season.

Military personnel, police, the forestry ministry and local residents have also pitched in to put out the fires.

"The peak of the dry season is forecast to last until September, so the threats of forest and plantation fires could rise," BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement distributed to reporters yesterday as the total number of hot spots in Indonesia rose to 239 from more than 170 last week. This is believed to be the highest so far this year.

West Kalimantan currently has the highest number of hot spots as fires spread since last Thursday. As of yesterday morning, as many as 126 hot spots were detected in the province, with Sintang (40) and Kapuas Hulu (36) regencies recording more than half of the total.

Hot spots were also detected in Nusa Tenggara Timur province (42), North Kalimantan (35), East Kalimantan (10), South Kalimantan (5) and Riau (1), among others.

Dr Sutopo said the teams working on the ground face several challenges. These include the vast areas they have to cover, the difficulty in accessing the location of fires, a lack of water source near the fires and a lack of firefighting equipment.

The low awareness among the villagers of the need to avoid burning land is a problem that the government still has to address, Dr Sutopo added.

"We have told the people that burning is banned, often made appeals to them, (and) done patrols to remote areas, but the fact is that burning of forest and land is still rampant," he said.

NUMBER OF HOT SPOTS DETECTED
West Kalimantan 126
Nusa Tenggara Timur 42
North Kalimantan 35

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