Saturday, August 8th, 2009
Focus now to put out underground fires: Lee
By Margaret Ringgit
Water could be sprayed 24 hours to control them
MIRI: The focus on Kuala Baram area now is putting out underground fires, said Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication Datuk Lee Kim Shin yesterday.
Lee was worried about the health of more than 100,000 people residing within the area where bush fires have consumed about 3,000 acres.
Some 169 personnel from various government agencies and the private sector have been deployed to the Asean Bridge in Kuala Baram, Senadin, Permyjaya and Senadin areas since three days ago in what has been called Ops Jerebu.
Lee said they might think of pumping water 24 hours in areas prone to underground fires to keep them wet.
The whole area is peat soil. That is why you only see smoke now. It is because of the underground firesvery smoky, he said when met during his visit to Ops Jerebu operation centre near the Asean Bridge yesterday.
Mayor Lawrence Lai, Miri Resident Dr Ngenang Jangu, and Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) officer Dania Godeb Goyog were among those who accompanied him.
Lee also disclosed that they may ask assistance from private companies to deploy mechanical excavators to the affected areas to dig out smouldering debris as one method to put out the underground fires.
Among the government bodies involved in Ops Jerebu are the 20th Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment based at Sri Miri camp, General Operations Force (GOF), Civil Defence Department (JPA3), and the police. A private company, Shin Yang, is also involved.
Dania revealed that 20 compounds have been issued statewide this year to those caught doing open burning.