Friday, February 25, 2005

Hundreds of hotspots detected in six states

Excerpt : TheStar
PETALING JAYA: Hundreds of fires have broken out in Peninsular Malaysia – forcing the Fire and Rescue Department to activate its national operation centre in Putrajaya and mobilise more than 2,000 personnel.

According to the department, the fires, which are technically termed as hotspots, were ravaging 8,600ha of land in six states – Selangor, Perak, Pahang, Johor, Kelantan and Kedah.

The hotspots, most of which were peat fires, have resulted in the deterioration of air quality, with Port Klang and Bukit Rambai in Malacca recording unhealthy air quality since Wednesday.

Kuala Lumpur was hazy yesterday with the air having a burning smell.

DOUSING THE FLAMES: Firefighters quelling fires at the Raja Muda Musa forest reserve in Batang Berjuntai, Kuala Selangor, yesterday. Bushfires such as these have been blamed for the haze in some parts of Selangor.So far no life has been lost or properties damaged as the fires were in remote areas and forest reserves.

Fire department assistant directorgeneral (Operations) Mohd Husain Ahmad Takin said the latest fires detected yesterday were in Kg Kuala Betis, Gua Musang, covering some 400ha and Felda Lubok Merbau, Kedah (40ha).
“We are using our helicopters to drop off teams in some areas to remain in the jungle for up to five days to battle the fires,” he added.

The biggest fires were in Selangor with 7,880ha affected.

Click to view pageKelantan had 406ha burning, Pahang 282ha, Kedah 40ha, Johor 24ha and Perak 14ha.

“Many of these fires have been raging since Feb 12,” he said.

Mohd Husain said that from Wednesday, some 100 firemen from Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Malacca had been deployed to beef up operations in Selangor.

He said that in some areas firemen were using excavators and bulldozers to build trenches to stop the fires from spreading.

“But for peat fires, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location of the fire as it usually spreads underground,” he added.

The Malaysian Meteorological Services Department’s weather forecast centre’s principal assistant director Wong Teck Kiong said the hot and dry weather was expected to continue until the end of March.

He said the temperature shot up to a blistering 38.3°C in Alor Star on Sunday, marking the second highest temperature recorded in the country.
The department’s highest ever temperature was recorded on April 9, 1998 when the mercury rose to 40.1°C in Chuping, Perlis.

Wong said the daytime temperature has been hovering around 37°C in most towns for the past two weeks compared with the usual average of between 34°C and 35°C.

Tenaga Nasional Berhad, in a statement yesterday, said that power consumption was at an all time high, peaking at 12,238MW on Wednesday because of the heatwave.

HAZE IS HERE: Hazy conditions near the Shah Alam toll of the New Klang Valley Expressway at noon yesterday.“Every one degree in temperature above 34°C will result in demand escalating up to 400MW.

“In coping with this, TNB is vigilantly monitoring its power supply system to its customers to avoid overloading situations,” the statement said, adding that consumers must use electricity efficiently to prevent overloading.

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