We cannot yet conclude whether this wildfire is related to acts by arsonists or it occurred naturally
Meulaboh, Aceh (ANTARA) - Tens of firefighters from the West Aceh Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) attempted to extinguish a fire ravaging two hectares of peatland in Leuhan Village, Johan Pahlawan Subdistrict, Meulaboh, Saturday.

Assisted by members of the local military, police, and local community, the BPBD firefighters worked hard to put out the fire, the agency's spokesman, Mashuri, told ANTARA in Meulaboh, West Aceh District Saturday.

"We cannot yet conclude whether this wildfire is related to acts by arsonists or it occurred naturally," he said, adding that the peatland area does not have productive plants, and it is probably owned by residents.

The firefighters attempted to prevent the fire from reaching other peatland areas. Three fire trucks helped them extinguish the fire but their efforts were hampered by their inability to reach water sources, Mashuri said.

Several parts of the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan have been bearing the brunt of the thick smoke rising from wildfires over the past weeks. The thickening smog has also threatened people's health and economic activities.

On Saturday, the Terra and Aqua satellites tracked 1,182 hotspots suggesting forest fires throughout Sumatra Island.

Jambi Province had the largest number, reaching 499 hotspots, followed by 391 in South Sumatra and 198 in Riau, the Pekanbaru meteorology, climatology, and geophysics station reported.

Some 40 hotspots were found in Bangka Belitung, 33 in Lampung, nine in Riau Island, eight in West Sumatra, and two each in Bengkulu and North Sumatra. In Riau Province, there were 74 hotspots in Indragiri Hilir, 57 in Rokan Hilir, 28 in Pelalawan, and 17 in Bengkalis, apart from 14 in Indragiri Hulu, four in Kuansing, and two each in Meranti and Kampar.

At least 129 fire spots of forest fires were confirmed in Riau, with the largest number found in Indragiri Hilir, numbering 47 with 38 in Rohan Hilir; and 18 in Pelalawan.

Forest fires in Riau produced smog that reduced visibility to 700 meters in Pekanbaru, 400 meters in Pelalawan, and 500 meters in Rengat Town, Indragiri Hili. (INE)
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Translator: Teuku DI, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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