"Today, 18 hotspots have surfaced due to the dry season that began almost over a month ago. (The hotspots) have caused land fires in several sub-districts in Bengkalis District," acting head of the Bengkalis District Natural Disaster Mitigation Board (BPBD) Tajul Mudaris stated on Monday.
Members of the firefighting team, with assistance from the locals, have striven incessantly to put out the hotspots to prevent them from spreading, he remarked.
Mudaris noted that the fires had consumed five hectares of peatland in Sukarjjo Mesim Village and four hectares of palm oil and rubber plantation and bush in Pergam Village, both in Rupat.
It is believed that the fire that destroyed the peatland had spread to palm oil and rubber plantations.
The acting head of BPBD stated that palm oil and rubber plantations and bush covering an area of three hectares in Dungun Village, Rupat Sub-district, also caught fire.
Land fires were also spotted in several villages in Rupat Utara Sub-district, including 0.1 hectares of bush in Tanjung Medang Village.
Fires also razed 30 hectares of palm oil plantation and bush in Tasik Serai Village, Talang Muandau Sub-district, and three hectares of bush in Air Kulim Village.
Forest and land fires usually occur during the dry season.
At the 2021 National Coordination Meeting for Forest and Land Fire Control at the State Palace, Jakarta, Monday, President Joko Widodo drew attention to several areas, such as in Riau and West Kalimantan, which were hit by forest and land fires since the end of January 2021.
The head of state reminded local governments to constantly exercise vigil in addressing the threat of forest and land fires even as the transition to the dry season is projected in May 2021.
Quoting a BMKG report, the president noted that La Nina weather phenomenon is forecast to occur until the first semester of 2021. A transition from rainy to the dry season will occur in May 2021.
However, Widodo cautioned local governments, the National Police, and the Military to not let their guard down against the threat of forest and land fires.
The president urged that forest and land fires that hit Riau and West Kalimantan would not recur.
"In Riau, 29 incidents were reported. Hence, the Governor of Riau, be careful, since despite it being handled, do not allow it to recur. Moreover, 52 incidents occurred in West Kalimantan. Be careful since regardless of efforts made in West Kalimantan, we all have to be careful," he affirmed.
In February 2021, forest and land fires are likely to occur on the island of Sumatra since the hot season has already set in.
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