We could only try to block the fires and prevent them from spreading to wider area."
Pekanbaru, Riau Province (ANTARA News) - Four teams of the Riau forest fire and rescue brigade called "Manggala Agni" have been trying to block peatland fires and to prevent them from spreading to wider area.

"We could only try to block the fires and prevent them from spreading to wider area. It is very difficult to extinguish the fires because there are so many obstacles in the fire locations," Isbanu, the head of the fire control unit of the Riau Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said here on Wednesday.

Around 550 hectares of three-meter-deep peatland in Sepahat (Bengkalis District) and Pelintung (Dumai City) have been on fire since last weekend.

The Riau authorities have deployed two fire brigade teams in Sepahat and Pelintung to control the peatland fires.

The other two teams have been instructed to anticipate possible fires in conservation areas.

The teams being assigned in Sepahat and Pelintung have been assisted by personnel from local NGO, "Masyarakat Peduli Api (MPA), local fire brigade offices and companies.

However, there is still not enough people to deal with the peatland fires, which are more difficult to be extinguished because they are hidden and spreading under the soil.

"We are just trying to control the fires. If the fires could spread up to 50 hectares per day, we could hold it to around 30 hectares a day," he said.

The dry season has worsened the fires and hampered the efforts to control the blazes.

"The peatland fires could only be put out by rains. However, the weather now is very dry and the wind blows quite strongly," he said.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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