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Jakarta Post

Authorities struggle to fight fires on Mt. Sindoro-Sumbing, hiking trails remain closed

  • Suherdjoko

    The Jakarta Post

Semarang   /   Sat, September 15, 2018   /   08:22 am
Authorities struggle to fight fires on Mt. Sindoro-Sumbing, hiking trails remain closed A farmer dries tobacco in Kledung village in the Sindoro-Sumbing valley in Central Java. (Antara Photo/Anis Efizudin)

The authorities are scrambling to tackle land and forest fires that have ravaged Mount Sindoro and Mount Sumbing in Central Java, but challenging terrain and strong winds are hampering the efforts to extinguish the fires.

A joint team comprising personnel from the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), the Indonesian Military and the police, as well as volunteers, have intensified mitigation efforts since the fire started. But as of Friday, the fires persisted.

“Even helicopters face difficulties in extinguishing the fires by water bombing, as they can barely maneuver through such challenging terrain,” BPBD Temanggung acting head Gito Wangaldi said on Friday.

The fires on Mt. Sindoro, which started on Friday last week, have burned through 245 hectares of land and vegetation in the area, while 239 ha has been burned through by the fires on Mt. Sumbing, which started to spread on Monday, BPBD data shows.

“Strong winds may cause the fire to spread quickly, which can put volunteers who don’t know the area at risk,” said BPBD Wonosobo acting head Prayitno.

In the meantime, the authorities have contained the fires on Mt. Sindoro so that the blaze would not spread to the south, where the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center has installed a seismograph, 100 meters from the location of the fires, Central Java Search and Rescue field coordinator Sutikno said.

All hiking trails leading up to the summits of the mountains have been closed and there were no hikers trapped in the areas, Prayitno added. (afr/swd)