Efforts on to put out wildfires in West Aceh

Efforts on to put out wildfires in West Aceh

Firefighters attempt to put out wildfires on the outskirts of Meulaboh, the capital of West Aceh district, Aceh province, on Saturday (August 22, 2020). (ANTARA/HO-Dok. BPBD Aceh Barat)

Meulaboh, Aceh (ANTARA) - Personnel from the West Aceh Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) and a joint team of firefighters were striving to extinguish wildfires that raged across several hectares of peatland in two villages on Saturday.


“We are still struggling to put out the wildfires this afternoon,” coordinator of the agency's operation control center, Mashuri, said in Meulaboh, West Aceh district.


The peatland ravaged by the wildfires lay in Seuneubok village, Johan Pahlawan subdistrict, and in Reusak village, Samatiga subdistrict, West Aceh, Aceh province.


Mashuri said land and forest fires always recur in the areas during the dry season, and efforts to fight them involve a joint team drawn from local military, police, and communities.


Police are still probing the causes of the wildfires, he added.


In September, 2019, a wildfire had damaged two hectares of peatland in Leuhan village, Johan Pahlawan subdistrict, Meulaboh.


At the time, Mashuri had said he could not confirm whether the wildfire was caused by arsonists or it had occurred naturally.


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


On August 11, 2020, South Sumatra police had dispatched 159 officers to support the prevention and mitigation efforts of the province's land and forest fire task force during the dry season to curb wildfires in five districts.


The personnel were placed at police precincts in Musi Banyuasin, Banyuasin, Ogan Ilir, Ogan Komering Ilir, and Pali districts to assist in land and forest fire-related prevention efforts, South Sumatra Police spokesperson, Sen.Coms.Supriadi, said.


Despite a complete ban on slash-and-burn agricultural practices that can trigger land and forest fires, people in different parts of Indonesia have continued to use this farming method.

ANTARA has earlier reported that the smog produced by land and forest fires poses a problem for neighboring countries because it potentially threatens people's health and aviation activities. (INE)

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