Malaysia: 40ha of Pahang forest, peat land on fire

T.N. Alagesh New Straits Times 26 Feb 19;

KUANTAN: Some 40ha of forest and peat land near the Gebeng Industrial area, near here, caught fire yesterday afternoon.

Thick smoke enveloped the industrial area today as firemen and Gebeng Emergency Mutual Aid (Gema) members worked to prevent the blaze from spreading to the nearby Kuantan bypass stretch and Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP).

Pahang Fire and Rescue Department chief Nor Hisham Mohammed said the fire broke out about 2.30pm yesterday and firemen were working around the clock to bring the situation under control.

“The affected area is about 101ha and fire is ravaging some 40ha of land,” he said.

“Some anglers were spotted leaving a lake in the area where the fire started.

“So, we believe they might be responsible for it...maybe it was sparked by a cigarette butt.”

He said firemen were stationed along the Kuantan bypass-Kuantan Port stretch to ensure that the fire did not spread to MCKIP and the smoke would not pose a threat to motorists.

He said 20 fire fighters from Gebeng and 14 Gema members had teamed up to put out the forest and peat fires.

“Two fire engines including assets from Lynas Corporation and Petronas Chemicals MTBE Sdn Bhd have been deployed at the scene.

“We are also using drones to monitor the situation on the ground, including the wind direction and new fire sites.

“Currently, the wind is pushing the smoke towards Kuantan town and we believe later at night the wind will push the smoke towards this area,” he said, adding that there had been a rising trend in the number of reports on forest and peat fires in Pahang since Saturday.

“The department received 24 reports on open burning on Saturday, 20 on Sunday and 19 yesterday. An 8ha plantation in Muadzam Shah and a road in Nenasi, Pekan, were also affected by forest fires,” he said.

Up in smoke: 40 hectares of Pahang forest razed
The Star 16 Feb 19;

KUANTAN (Bernama): Nearly 40 hectares of forest near the Gebeng industrial area here were destroyed in a fire, causing several surrounding areas to be enveloped in smoke.

Pahang Fire and Rescue Department Malaysia (JPBM) director Nor Hisham Mohammad said they received a report at 2.30pm Monday (Feb 25), adding that the fire is believed to have started from the lakeside area near the forest.

"Based on the information obtained from the workers of several factories here, there were many anglers were in the area and we suspect that some of them could have started the fire while fishing.

"The fire is spreading rapidly as the area is a former timber production site.

"We expect to be able to put out the fire within the next two days," he told a media conference here on Tuesday (Feb 26).

Nor Hisham said the operations involved 21 fire officers and personnel as well as 14 volunteers from the Gebeng Emergency Mutual Aid comprising employees of major factories here, namely, Kaneka Malaysia, Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd as well as Petronas Chemical MTBE and also received assistance from Alliance Steel (M) Sdn Bhd.

He said thus far, the operations were using three methods to douse the flames.

These involved building dams to increase the water level in the affected area to prevent the fire from spreading to other locations.

"In addition, we are also monitoring the area using drones to gauge the speed of the fire and wind direction, as well as monitoring the Kuantan-Port shortcut route to ensure that the fire does not spread to the area," he said.

"We have met with representatives of two factories that have workers' hostels here to advise them to take necessary measures such as drinking enough water," he said.

Nor Hisham advised the public not to carry out open burning as JBPM there had been increasing fire reports since last week.

He said 24 reports on fires were received on Saturday, 20 reports on Sunday and 19 reports on Monday, including large-scale fire incidents at a forest near the oil palm plantation in Muadzam Shah and along the Nenasi route near Pekan. – Bernama

Avoid open burning in current dry, hot weather
New Straits Times 26 Feb 19;

SEREMBAN: The Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (JBPM) urged the public not to carry out open burning activities, especially in the current dry, hot weather that the country is experiencing.

Its director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said open burning should be avoided as it not only posed problems for firefighters to put it out, but it also destroyed the environment.

“Dry weather tends to ignite and spread fire faster that will make it difficult to control and to be put out. Open burning of rubbish can also lead to grass, bush and forests fires. Those who are engaged in mountain or hill climbing activities are also reminded to extinguished the fire correctly and not to throw cigarette butts indiscriminately as it can cause fire in the area.

“JBPM identifies the locations of bush fires, forests as well as peatland throughout the country that often experiencing fire incidents, and we are constantly monitoring and getting ready to face any situation. For this week alone, we detect open burning in several locations in Nilai and Sepang but they are under control.

He said this to reporters after the presentation of Negeri Sembilan JBPM’s Excellence Service awards to 71 officers and personnel as well as 30- year service certificates to four officers and personnel in a ceremony here today. Also present was state director Norazam Khamis.

He also said that Sepang was identified as the largest peatland in the Klang Valley and very sensitive too as it was located near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

“The peatland is highly flammable especially during the hot weather and that’s why we are very careful,” he said.

Commenting on the Dragon Star 1 passenger ferry that caught on fire in Langkawi yesterday, he said the JBPM, which had its special forensic team, in collaboration with other agencies, was still investigating the cause of the fire.

In the 2.45pm incident, 52 ferry passengers were rescued after the ferry they were travelling in caught fire as it departed from Kuah Ferry Terminal, Langkawi, to Kuala Perlis.

Meanwhile, Norazam said 77 cases of bush fires and 140 cases of grass fires were reported in the state from Jan 1 to Feb 18, this year. - Bernama