JAKARTA: Forest fires in Indonesia’s South Sumatra province were subdued on Friday, reducing the possibility of neighboring Singapore and Malaysia being affected by haze.
No fires were detected in the province after heavy rain for the past two days, said a South Sumatra official. “It’s safe for the moment,” he told Arab News.
Governors in South Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan provinces declared emergency alerts in anticipation of forest and land fires.
“At least until the next two months, there are no winds blowing toward Singapore or Malaysia,” Harry Tirto Djatmiko, spokesman for Indonesia’s national weather agency BMKG, told Arab News.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, on Wednesday said by declaring emergency alerts, the provinces — which are entering the dry season — will have easier access to personnel, budgets, logistics and support from the central government, with a more coordinated chain of command to combat forest fires.
“The dry season will be more intense from June to September. That’s when forest fires usually worsen,” he said.
“We’re preparing our support by providing planes for cloud seeding and helicopters for water bombing.”
According to a Global Forest Watch report, there were 3,362 alerts from forest or land fires in Indonesia from Feb. 14-21.
The report showed that the highest number of alerts originated from West Kalimantan with 1,442, and 736 in Riau.
Containing forest fires will be extremely important this year for Indonesia as it is hosting the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, the provincial capital of South Sumatra. The games will start on Aug. 18 and end on Sept. 2.
President Joko Widodo on Feb. 6 urged authorities to prevent haze from forest fires disrupting the games.
“I guarantee that there will be no haze. We would lose our face if there were any haze,” he said.