On Java Island, the prolonged dry season has triggered wildfires in forest areas located on the slopes of several mountains in Central, East, and West Java Provinces.
Among the mountains hit by wildfires were Mount Merbabu, Mount Sumbing, Mount Slamet, and Mount Sindoro in Central Java Province; Mount Argopuro and Mount Sadran in East Java Province; Mount Ciremai in West Java Province; and Mount Lawu located in the border of the provinces of Central and East Java.
Fortunately, vigilant local authorities, supported by volunteers, have managed to control and finally extinguish the wildfires in a relatively short period of time.
In Mount Merbabu, two fires gutted two different forest areas located respectively in Boyolali District and Semarang District.
The wildfire that ravaged part of a forest area on the slope located in Boyolali District was put out on Oct 12, 2018 by a joint team comprising military and police officers as well as volunteers.
Another fire, however, broke out in an area located in Semarang District and razed a forest area measuring 400 hectares.
Some 100 people were deployed to put out the fire, according to Edy Sutiyarto, head of the Mount Merbabu National Park Office.
Also in Central Java, wildfires were spotted twice on Mount Sumbing in Temanggung District, respectively on September 11 and 25, 2018.
The first fire in a humus area had not been completely put out, so it arose again on Sept 25, Gito Walngadi, acting head of the Temanggung disaster mitigation office, stated.
Nearly 170 personnel and a helicopter were deployed to extinguished the fires that razed a total area of 490.9 hectares.
On Mount Slamet, fire razed a pine forest area belonging to the state-owned forestry company Perhutani, according to Captain Sarmin of the Pemalang military district.
Local officers and volunteers had to struggle for several days to put out the fire in the area, with difficult terrain.
On Mount Sindoro in Temanggung District, a wildfire destroyed some 156 hectares of forest area.
The mountain`s climbing trails remained closed, although the wildfire on Mt Sindoro was extinguished, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the National Natural Disaster Mitigation Office (BNPB), tweeted last September.
A forest fire on Mount Lawu, located on the border of Central and East Java, destroyed 25-30 hectares of forest area recently.
Several hundreds of people, including local volunteers and personnel of state-owned forestry company Perhutani, military, police, and environment agency, participated in the joint efforts to stop the fire.
Owing to its scenic view, beautiful Edelweiss flowers, and crater, Mt Lawu has become one of the mountains in the Indonesian island of Java, which is frequently scaled by mountaineers.
In East Java, a fire razed some 20 hectares of the Cisentor forest area located on the slope of Mount Argopuro, Probolinggo District.
Three to four hotspots were detected in the Hyang Argopuro Plateau in Krucil Sub-district, Probolinggo District, Setyo Utomo, an official of the Jember Natural Resources Conservation Office, stated recently.
Cisentor forest is home to several species of birds, Javanese monkeys, deer, and panthers. However, most of the animals managed to escape the fire, he added.
The fire, finally extinguished by the local authorities and volunteers, was believed to have arisen from a bonfire that was not completely put out.
In the same province, a forest area located on the slope of Mount Sadran in Broto Village, Slahung Sub-district, Ponorogo District, was razed by a wildfire, last September.
The forest area belonged to the State Forestry Company, Perhutani, second inspector Satrio Teguh, spokesman of the Ponorogo Police, stated.
The cause of the fire was unknown, but the blaze destroyed at least one hectare area of teakwood forest owned by local farmers and 0.015 hectare of forest area belonging to Perhutani.
In Kuningan District, West Java, fires gutted two separate forest areas on Mount Ciremai recently.
Some 100 hectares of forest area on Mount Ciremai were gutted by fire, Agus Yudantara, spokesman of the Mount Ciremai National Park, remarked on September 18, 2018.
The wildfire, razing bushes and grasses, was triggered by the current prolonged drought, he added.
A joint team, comprising military and police personnel, local fire fighters, and volunteers, was deployed to extinguish the blaze.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Forestry (KLHK) on Sept 19 reported that some three thousand hotspots had been detected across the country since early this year.
Chief infrastructure official of the KLHK Ministry`s Climate Change Control Directorate General Agus Hariyanto informed reporters here on Wednesday that his office had detected 3,032 hotspots.
The number of hotspots until Sept 3 was higher than about one thousand in 2017. However, it is far lower than 15 thousand hotspots recorded during the same period in 2015.
He pointed out that several regions in Indonesia continue to face drought until November 2018
This is based on the forecast of the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency that a relatively weak El Nino phenomenon is approaching Indonesia.
The warning issued by the agency should make people living in the drought-hit provinces to remain vigilant.