Four helicopters roped in to battle forest fires in Riau

Four helicopters roped in to battle forest fires in Riau

The local residents of Pekanbaru wore face masks while venturing outdoors since the city’s air quality remained at an unhealthy level on Aug 24, 2019.

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Riau forest fire task force has employed four helicopters to douse the conflagration spreading across the southern part of the province on Sumatra Island.

The wildfire-fighting efforts were increased in spite of deterrence on the field, Edwar Sanger, deputy head of the task force, stated here on Saturday.

The helicopters prioritized conducting water bombings over the districts of Palalawan, Indragiri Hulu, and Indragiri Hilir, where several forest fires were ongoing and triggered haze that enveloped Pekanbaru City.

Water shortage owing to water sources drying up during the current severe dry spell and strong winds were among the several obstacles that hindered optimal firefighting efforts.

"Strong winds and forest fires located at a long distance from water sources are among our obstacles on the field," Sanger stated.

Data from the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry indicated that over 30 thousand hectares of forest areas were ravaged by fires since January this year.

Visibility in Riau's capital of Pekanbaru was curtailed to 1.5 kilometers (km) on Saturday at 8 a.m. local time owing to smog emanating from forest fires in Pelalawan District, in particular.

The local residents of Pekanbaru wore face masks while venturing outdoors since the city’s air quality remained at an unhealthy level.

In the meantime, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) Station in Pekanbaru, Riau Province, confirmed that 584 hotspots representing forest fires were spotted on Sumatra Island on Saturday morning.

Of the total, 272 hotspots were found in Riau, over two-folds as compared to 112 hotspots on Friday afternoon, Nia Fadhila, the Pekanbaru BMKG station's analyst, stated here on Saturday.

Some 128 hotspots were found in Jambi Province, 99 in South Sumatra, 41 in Bangka Belitung, 18 in Lampung, 11 each in West Sumatra and Riau Islands, and four in Bengkulu.

In Riau, 102 hotspots were located in Pelalawan District, 90 in Indragiri Hilir, 35 in Bengkalis, 17 in Indragiri Hulu, nine each in Meranti Islands and Siak, seven in Rokan Hilir, two in Kuansing, and one in Kampar.

Furthermore, 192 of the total 272 hotspots in Riau were believed to be fire spots, with 76 in Pelalawan, 60 in Indragiri Hulu, and 29 in Bengkalis.  

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