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Jakarta Post

Wildfires rage on in Riau, authorities use helicopters to put out flames

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, March 25, 2019   /   01:23 pm
Wildfires rage on in Riau, authorities use helicopters to put out flames Firefighters exstinguish a peatland fire in Pekanbaru, Riau, in February 2018. (AFP/Wahyudi)

The total area lost to wildfires in Riau this year has increased to 2,719 hectares.

The head coordinator of the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Edwar Sanger, said the wildfires were likely to keep spreading, as the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru was still detecting hot spots.

Edwar said Bengkalis was the hardest hit regency with 1,263 ha of burned land. Most districts in the regency have experienced wildfires since early this year. However, the worst wildfires were recorded on Rupat Island, where peatland was on fire throughout February, causing thick smoke that spread to the city of Dumai on the Sumatran mainland.

Aside from Bengkalis, severe wildfires were reported in the east coast areas of Rokan Hilir (407 ha), Meranti (222.4 ha) and Dumai (192.25 ha).

Read also: Impacts of forest fires kill four in W. Kalimantan

Moreover, Edwar revealed that wildfires had ravaged 314.5 ha in Siak regency, 107.1 ha in Indragiri Hilir and 64.5 ha in Indragiri Hulu. He added the fire had claimed 37.75 ha of land in Pekanbaru, 26.6 ha in Kampar, 2 ha in Rokan Hulu and 5 ha in Kuantan Singingi.

The Indonesian Military, police, BPBD and Manggala Agni fire department are attempting to put down the flames through aerial firefighting with helicopters.

“The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) already lent us three helicopters. We received three [more] from private parties, and they will lend us one more.” Edwar said as quoted by the Antara news agency on Monday.

He added that the Environment and Forestry Ministry (KLHK), the police and the military would also lend one helicopter each to help with the effort. (dpk/dmr)