Situbondo, E Java (ANTARA News) - Some 19 hectares of lands at Baluran National Park in Situbondo District, East Java, was burned on Sunday (May 20), Sopan Arief Suprihandoko, head of fires prevention, said on Monday.

"Our rangers are now still counting the number of lands affected by the fires. The last record now is that 19,2208 hectares of land were burnt," he stated, while adding that the fires were allegedly man made.

Since 4:25 p.m. local time on Sunday (May 20), the fires scorched the T-12 Block at the national park, followed by another blaze at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Hours later, at 10:14 p.m. local time, the blazes had been put out by a joint force of the national park, the state-owned forestry company Perhutani, the district`s firefighter, and the community-based firefighters (MPA).

"Our job to extinguish fires had been challenged by heavy wind and dry leaves," Suprihandoko remarked.

After the incident, the authority will further investigate the cause.

"Some locals have claimed seeing some people start the fires, but we still have to probe this report," he stressed.

During the dry season, the national park authority called on people to avoid any activities that will trigger fires.

"Blazes had previously burned Cangkring Sector, before fires in T-12 Block," he noted.

The fires had burned not only the land in Baluran National Park but also several areas in Sumatra, especially Riau.

On Monday (May 21), the fire-prone Riau Province has considered extending the alert status to anticipate wildfires and haze, mainly ahead of Asian Games.

The fires alert status in Riau has been effective since Feb 19 to May 31. However, the final decision on the alert status will be declared on May 25, Edwar Sanger, head of Riau Disaster Mitigation Office (BPBD), remarked in Pekanbaru on Monday.

In Riau Province, some 1.8 thousand hectares of land have been burned during the first five months this year.

Reported by Novi Husdinariyanto and Zumrotun Solichah

Reporter: antara
Editor: Heru Purwanto
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