Plantations are at risk as firefighters battle to stop the spread of wildfires at Kuala Baram in northern Sarawak.
Miri Fire and Rescue Department chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said on Sunday (Feb 23) that there are wildfires raging in areas owned by two development consortiums in Kuala Baram.
“The low-water level and strong winds are causing the fires to spread,” he said.
Aside from the fires in Kuala Baram (15km from Miri city), there are also wildfires in Eastwood Valley (5km from Miri) and Lambir (10kms from Miri). Wildfires covering 16.9ha (the size of about 42 football fields combined) are raging in forests in Miri district.
Law said the department have received complaints about land clearance burning, that are causing this spate of wildfires. Chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said firefighters were battling the flames now. “We are trying to build fire breaks to stop the fires from spreading”.
Supt Law said the department was getting the Sungai Adong plantation landowners to send workers to help fight the fires.
This latest fire in Sungai Adong is the biggest wildfire so far this year in Miri.
Firefighters have also tackled wildfires along the Miri-Bintulu highway that have burnt almost 8ha of forests.
There are worries that such wildfires will worsen if the weather gets drier in the coming weeks.
Over the past few days and nights, the Miri Fire and Rescue Department had to deal with cases of wildfires that burned in five locations in and around Miri.
According to the reports compiled by the department, there were at least five sizeable fires.
Despite the hazards to people and the environment, slash-and-burn is a preferred method of land clearing as it does the job quickly and cheaply.
Miri is notorious for its annual wildfires-haze woes.
Last year, there were two episodes of serious haze that stretched for months, with the Air Pollutant Index at one-point surging beyond the hazardous 400 mark.