Agency deploys nine choppers to fight forest fires

Two of the nine helicopters are deployed in Riau, four in South Sumatra, one in West Kalimantan, and two in Central Kalimantan.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has deployed nine helicopters in several provinces to conduct water bombing as part of its efforts to prevent the spread of forest and bush fires during this dry spell.

"The nine helicopters have been conducting water bombing in the provinces of Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, and Central Kalimantan," Head of BNPB Information Data Center and Public Relations Sutopo Purwo Nugroho stated here on Thursday.

He remarked that two of the nine helicopters are deployed in Riau, four in South Sumatra, one in West Kalimantan, and two in Central Kalimantan.

"We are conducting water bombing 50 times a day in areas prone to forest fires in each of the provinces," he revealed.

The helicopters, with a capacity of carrying 500 to four thousand liters of water, are routinely conducting water bombing to prevent the spread of forest and bush fires, which have caused thick smoke. The smoke has disrupted the activities and health of the local residents, he pointed out.

"If the forest and bush fires worsen, we will send two air tractor planes and three more helicopters from companies in Riau," he noted.

Based on the data collected between 2006 and 2014, most of the hotspots in Sumatra were found from mid-June to October, and in Kalimantan from August to October.

Therefore, Sutopo emphasized that all sides must stay alert to prevent forest fires in the hotspots.

"The number of hotspots in the February-July 2014 period was higher than that recorded in the same period last year. This means that fires to clear land should be set during the monsoon to prevent the spread of forest fires and air pollution," he stated.

Sutopo remarked on Tuesday that the number of hotspots in Kalimantan continued to increase and based on the MODIS satellites monitoring data on Monday, 630 hotspots were detected in Central Kalimantan, 268 in West Kalimantan, 74 in South Kalimantan, 281 in South Sumatra, 94 in Riau, 53 in Bangka-Belitun, 48 in Jambi, and eight in Lampung.

The smoke emanating from the forest fires in Kalimantan was currently drifting in the northeastward direction while that arising from Sumatra was moving northward and northeastward reaching Riau.

Even the smoke arising from Riau and South Sumatra has spread to Singapore causing a spurt in the Air Pollution Standard Index in that country and also in Malaysia.

Indonesia is currently experiencing dry season that has partly triggered hotspots arising from forest and plantation fires in 15 provinces, including in Riau, South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and East Kalimantan.(*)