"Today we are putting out land fires that have occurred in an area of about 50x100 meters with an area burned (into the ground) around 20x10 meters," said Head of the East Kotawaringin Fire and Rescue Service, Rihel, in Sampit Saturday. A fire was spotted on Walter Hugo Street, Baamang Barat Village, Baamang District. The location of the burned land is still within the area of Sampit City.
A team of eight firefighters was immediately dispatched to the location after public reports. Although the burning area is an empty field full of weeds, the prompt response of the firefighters helped to quickly bring the fire under control.
Firefighters along with Manggala Agni (the Forestry Ministry's fire fighter team) had to struggle to extinguish the fire in the midst of the hot weather. The thick smoke hindered the efforts of officers initially but they managed to overcome it with the help of the firefighting personnel who were already deployed there.
The Kotawaringin East Fire and Rescue Service acted quickly to check the land fires as soon the intensity of the rain began to decrease.
East Kotawaringin includes areas that are very prone to land fires because of the wide distribution of thick peat. In 2015, land fires and haze were very severe in the district which disrupted community activities, the economy, transportation, education and health.
Fires in the peatlands are very difficult to extinguish because they burn right into the ground even though at the surface they look to have been extinguished. Blackouts must be repeated so that the fire is completely extinguished.
"The location of the fire that we put out today has also been burned before. The peat fires are indeed difficult to extinguish. Until at 2:30 a.m. WIB, we are still cooling it down to ensure that the fire in the ground is completely extinguished," said Rihel.
Meanwhile, the East Kotawaringin District Government took early steps to prevent and control the forest and land fires, before they went out of hand.
The Regional Secretary who is also the Head of the Kotawaringin Timur Disaster Management Agency, Halikinnor has invited all relevant agencies to attend a coordination meeting on the determination of emergency alert status for forest and land fires.
Along with the meeting which will be held on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, there is a plan to form a Task Force for the control of forest and land fires in East Kotawaringin Regency.
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