Central Kalimantan latest Indonesian province to declare state of emergency on forest fires

Central Kalimantan latest Indonesian province to declare state of emergency on forest fires

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Despite the existence of hotspots, some districts in Indonesia have yet to be on emergency alert for forest fires, says Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB). (Photo: BNPB)

JAKARTA: The Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan is the latest to announce a state of emergency on forest and land fires, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 22).

The BNPB said the province began its state of emergency on Aug 1 and that it will end on Oct 14.

Governors from five other provinces had earlier declared a state of emergency to help them combat forest and land fires during the dry season this year.

These provinces are in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan.

Riau and South Sumatra were the first to declare a state of emergency as early as January this year.

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A firefighter tries to extinguish a bush fire in Ogan Ilir regency, South Sumatra, Indonesia Aug 4, 2017. (Photo: Antara Foto/Nova Wahyudi/via REUTERS)

By putting themselves on emergency alert early, regions can ask for aid from the central government to tackle small fires and prevent them from growing into bigger ones.

Hotspots have also continued to increase across the archipelago.

BNPB said it detected a total of 538 hotspots as of Tuesday morning with most of them concentrated in West Kalimantan and Papua.

There were 193 hotspots in West Kalimantan, 143 hotspots in Papua and 4 in Central Kalimantan.

"The total number of hotspots may be higher than 538. This is because the Terra and Aqua satellites are not able to detect a number of areas which are considered to be 'blank spots', like Aceh, Jambi, Riau, West Sumatra, North Sumara, Gorontalo, Central Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawei and East Nusa Tenggara," said BNPB's spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

BNPB said it has deployed a total of 21 helicopters to conduct water bombing operations in harder to reach areas in various provinces.

It added that some 20,000 hectares of land have been affected by forest and land fires so far this year.

Last year, 438,000 hectares of land were destroyed, and during the massive forest fires in 2015, a total of 2.61 million hectares of land were ravaged by the fires.

BNPB expects the peak of the dry season to be in September and it is predicted to last until October.  

Source: CNA/aa