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Jakarta Post

South Sumatra extends emergency alert status for forest and land fires

  • Yulia Savitri

    The Jakarta Post

Palembang   /   Tue, November 3, 2020   /   08:33 pm
South Sumatra extends emergency alert status for forest and land fires An official of the South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) puts out a land fire as a helicopter belonging to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) helps in the extinguishing efforts in Rambutan village in Banyuasin, South Sumatra on Sept. 16, 2018. (Antara/Nova Wahyudi)

The South Sumatra provincial administration has continued to carry out preventive measures against forest and land fires as it extends the emergency alert status until Nov. 30.

"[We] continue to take preventive action by patrolling, monitoring and educating residents to not burn land," the operation commander of the South Sumatra Forest and Land Fire Task Force, Brig. Gen. Jauhari Agus Suraji, said on Monday.

His team had also lent land-clearing equipment to local residents to prevent them from using slash and burn methods to clear land, he added.

To further support the campaign, the task force conducted programs to boost the local economy so that residents would not solely depend on farming as their source of income.

"We also ensured that companies located near vulnerable areas set up standard operational procedures for [forest and land fire] prevention. Although, we have to admit that there are some who have disobeyed us," Jauhari further stated.

As of October, the task force's land team had conducted 1,231 education programs in 158 vulnerable villages and had extinguished 150 hot spots that burned 404.67 hectares of land.

Read also: Despite wet season, South Sumatra extends forest fire alert status until end of November

The air team had used 77.05 tons of salt to seed clouds and carried out 10,127 water bombings.

The task force had also coordinated with local law enforcement to investigate 16 fire cases affecting 25.4 hectares of land.

"So far, authorities have named 18 people suspects,"Jauhari said.

South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Iriansyah said several regions were still at risk of forest and land fires due to uneven rains in the province.

"Some regions are still at risk of forest and land fires. Despite satellites failing to detect it, air monitoring shows smoke rising in several locations. They were mostly caused by dry peatlands or land clearing," he said, adding that the BPBD had prepared eight water bombing helicopters to deal with the situation.

Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 2, 1,296 forest and land fires were recorded in South Sumatra, burning 268,602 hectares of land. As of October 2020, the province still recorded as many as 2,417 hotspots.

Most of the fires in South Sumatra occurred in areas with deep peatland such as in Banyuasin regency, Ogan Ilir regency and Ogan Komeling Ilir regency. (nal)