Lee (right) being briefed by Law on the fire situation in Kuala Baram during the visit to Tudan watchtower.
MIRI: It will take about three days of continuous rain to totally put out the forest and peat soil fires currently affecting an area of about 614 hectares in Kuala Baram.
“The heavy rain earlier this morning did not put out the fire, but it did slow it down. Looking at the rain intensity, it will take three days of similar non-stop rain to put out this fire,” Zone 6 Fire and Rescue Station (Bomba) chief Supt Law Poh Kiong told reporters at Tudan watch tower yesterday evening.
He said this was due to thick vegetation in the area that slows down the rain from directly reaching the ground and the fire.
Law pointed out that the affected areas had no proper access road but could be reached on foot, and the fire could have been started by individuals hunting in the area.
Law was accompanying Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin to see the area affected by the fire and efforts being done to put it out as well as control it.
Meanwhile, Lee urged owners of land which are yet to be developed to clear up their land and plant cash crops on it such as pineapple, banana or tapioca to prevent forest and bush fires.
“They can also get some income from it, rather than leaving the land idle and facing this problem of forest fire every year. It will cost them more (to put out the fire).
“In fact, cash crops can be harvested within six months so they will also make money in the process,” he said, adding that the crash crops idea was suggested by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas during a recent visit to Miri.
If the landowners have no plan to develop their land yet, Lee said they should at least have enough fire breaks on the land so that when a fire breaks out, it will be easier to contain.
“Maybe the landowners can work together with Bomba, DOE (Department of Environment), NREB (Natural Resources and Environment Board) and DID (Department of Irrigation) to implement preventive measures.
“Bomba can recommend the preventive measures and guide the landowners on this. For example, landowners can put up enough fire breaks, bring in their machinery or maintain water level (using tube well),” he said, adding that this will be a long-term measure.
Apart from that, Lee also urged members of the public to be vigilant and to immediately notify Bomba should they see smoke billowing in the area so that preventive measures can be taken immediately.
“Rela personnel stationed at this watch tower must also notify Bomba as soon as they see smoke in the forest and bush area before the fire spreads. Once it spreads it will be very difficult to contain,” he said.
He added that DOE had been instructed to investigate the cause of the forest and peat soil fires.
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