The Jakarta Post
Government agencies have deployed 10 water-bombing helicopters to extinguish forest and wildfires that have been plaguing West Kalimantan over the last month.
“The joint team continues its struggle to put out the forest and wildfires,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement on Thursday.
Besides the helicopters, the BNPB is also working with the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) and the Indonesian Military (TNI) to create artificial rain by seeding clouds with sodium chloride, Sutopo added.
“It has rained unevenly in the past few days, which has helped reduce the fires,” he said.
As of Thursday, Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) satellites had detected 885 hot spots in the province, more than in any other province. Four people have died as a result of forest fires in the province over the last month.
Sutopo said the fires were exacerbated by the local custom of burning fields before clearing land during the dry season.
“The residents of the Sanggau, Sambas, Ketapang, and Kubu Raya regencies have a tradition called gawai serentak where they prepare for the planting season by burning,” he said. “The regional government has forbidden it but it is still practiced in many places.”
He added that local police would continue patrols to stop such deliberate burning.
The BMKG has also issued a warning that increasingly dry weather could trigger even more fires during the peak of the dry season from August to September. (swd)