Resident: Open burning still rampant despite hazy situation in Miri

MIRI: There are still a number of irresponsible individuals who conduct open burning despite concerted efforts by the authorities to manage bush fires here.

This was evident when firefighters had to be despatched to four different locations Jalan Perlis within Kuala Baram Industrial Area, Tudan Emart, a site near Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club and Taman Jelita Taman Tunku yesterday to put out fires.

It is very sad that some irresponsible Mirians have opted to do open burning, which worsens the already hazy situation in Miri. Some even leave the fire to spread to other areas.

These people should cooperate (with authorities) on addressing the situation; not complicate it, said Miri Resident Antonio Kahti Galis, who is also divisional chairman of the Natural Disaster and Relief Committee.

Having said this, he was glad that Fire and Rescue Department personnel had been able to bring the bush fire under control.

However, the API (Air Pollutant Index) reached 91 at 4pm (yesterday) the second highest in the country after Ipoh which registered 93, he disclosed.

On Thursday, air quality here was recorded at an unhealthy level with an API of 116.

An API reading between zero and 50 indicates good air quality; between 51 and 100, moderate; between 101 and 200, unhealthy; between 201 and 300, very unhealthy; and over 301, hazardous.

According to head of Miri Zone Fire and Rescue Department, senior superintendent I Law Poh Kiong, areas around the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) and Hamidah Orphanage Complex remain the worst affected areas here.

The bush fire has spread to the forest nearby. Our 98 men are doing their best with reinforcement of 19 personnel from the army, Miri Port, Civil Defence Department and Naim Holdings Bhd.

Apart from the four locations today (yesterday), the overall situation is under control. We have stopped water bombing across the 50 acres around ILP and Hamidah Complex since Monday. For now, we only use helicopters for recce (reconnaissance), he said.

Law reiterated the call to locals against open burning and other acts that could trigger fires, especially in dry peat swamp areas.

The people need to cooperate on this, as it is not easy to put out fires in peat swamp areas like those near Jalan Perlis in Kuala Baram, where the flames could easily spread to other areas, he added.