Permyjaya peat fires now smouldering— Lee

MIRI: The efforts to douse the peat soil fire in Permyjaya made by Fire and Rescue Department with the assistance of other agencies for almost one week have been fruitful.

The fires are now under control and most of the fires have been put out. Only around 500 acres of the 2,000 acres are badly affected. The only problem that they are having now is smoke coming out from inner layer of the peat soil, said Assistant Minister of Communications Datuk Lee Kim Shin when handing over mineral water to the department and other agencies involved in the operation.

The Youth section of Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) earlier donated 50 boxes of mineral water for those involved in the operation.

I hope they can put out the inner or underground fire by today (yesterday) as tomorrow (today) will be the reopening of the school term.

Hopefully, the condition will be back to normal as it will affect the children and teachers at SJK (C) Chung Hua Tudan including children at Hamidah Orphanage and the Industrial Training Institute (ILP), said Lee, adding that the Department of Environment will be distributing masks to both the primary school and orphanage early this morning.

Earlier, Zone 6 fire chief Supt Law Poh Kiong briefed Lee on the operation to put out the fire, saying the operation would concentrate on areas near the school and the orphanage. Joining the operation are personnel of the fire-fighting units from the army and Miri Port Authority.

The smoke coming out from the inner layer of peat soil causes the hazy condition and is bad for those having asthma or respiratory problem, he added.

Meanwhile, the assistant minister called on the Fire and Rescue Department and related agencies to take preventive measures in areas in Kuala Baram, especially Desa Senadin and the area near Curtin University, which are prone to bush fire.

I requested Fire and Rescue Department and Drainage and Irrigation Department to wet the area and raise the water table in the area by pumping water from Curtin Lake to prevent fires from starting, he said.

He also requested land owners, developers and plantations in the area and nearby areas to ensure that no open burningactivities are carried out and to put out the fire when it is still small.

The air pollution index (API) reading in the affectedareas especially ILP had gone down to 89 from 139, which is categorised as moderate, while in PiasauPujut, the reading was 54.

API in the city centre and other areas was reported to be good and healthy.