The Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency has warned of rising hotspots across Riau province and asked the authority to immediately anticipate forest and peatland fires. The agency’s head Philip Mustamu said its satellite images had shown 24 hotspots in Riau — 10 in Dumai, seven in Bengkalis, five in Rokan Hilir and two in Siak.
“The number of hotspots had risen by nine spots compared to the day before,” he said. “The growing number of hotspots influenced by the rising temperature, which in the past several days has reached 34.7 degrees Celsius, or close to extreme. “We must alert to the rising temperature due to low rainfall in a large part of Riau. The signs of the dry season are marked by the scorching sun in the daytime and stifling heat at night over the past week.”
Forest and Peatland Fire department at the Riau Forestry Office Said Nurjaya said he had received the warning and notified regents, mayors and police forces across the province to anticipate the possibility of fires due to the changing season. “We have deployed firefighters to help extinguish fires in a number of areas,” he said. Haze has started to shroud Rokan Hilir and Bengkalis regencies and Dumai city. Haze in Dumai over the last four days has restricted visibility at 200 meters.
The Dumai Transportation Office has put up signboards reminding motorists to reduce speed at a number of spots to minimize accidents. In Rokan Hilir, haze has blanketed the city for past three days, reportedly worrying residents. A resident in regency capital of Pasir Pengarayan, Ahmad Zaini, said the haze, which was present every morning and afternoon, had severely disrupted outdoor activities. “The haze is very disturbing for motorcyclists,” Zaini told The Jakarta Post by phone. “When I sent my child to school this morning, the haze irritated my eyes and made it difficult for me to breathe.”
Source: The Jakarta Post – February 18, 2010
By Rizal Harahap