Second Johor hotspot detected; fires could bring 'some smell and haze' to Singapore: NEA

Second Johor hotspot detected; fires could bring 'some smell and haze' to Singapore: NEA

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File photo of an HDB block.

SINGAPORE: Another hotspot has been detected in Johor about 50km to the east-northeast of Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Wednesday (Feb 27). 

Smoke from the hotspot, which was detected on Tuesday, was blown southwest by prevailing northeasterly winds, the agency said, adding that it had received feedback from members of the public that day about a burning smell across many areas of Singapore.

In its update, NEA also said that the hotspot detected earlier this week 30km east of Singapore was due to a fire at an oil palm plantation in Johor. 

READ: Hotspot in Johor could bring "slightly hazy conditions" to Singapore - NEA

"The Department of Environment (Johor) has since informed us that there was fire at Punggai, near Bandar Penawar, in the area of an oil palm plantation," NEA said, adding that the cause of the fire was the hot weather in parts of Johor.

"The firemen from Bandar Penawar and plantation workers have just managed to put out the fire, after fighting the fire for the past few days. This effort was also helped by the rainfall on 26 Feb 2019, although 20 per cent of the area remains smoky.

"If the fires in Johor continue, some smell and haze may be expected in Singapore," said the agency.

Johor Fire and Rescue Department Director Yahaya Madis told Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday that there were several hotspots in Bandar Penawar due to the clearing of land for palm oil planting.

“We spotted a few hotspots within the 30 ha plantation … All was under control as they were extinguished within two days,” he said, adding that the smoke was unlikely to spread to Singapore.

READ: Dry spell affects water levels at Johor's major dams amid heatwave in Malaysia

NEA added that February is normally a dry month in the surrounding region and that extended periods of dry weather can lead to outbreaks of land and vegetation fires.

As at 1pm on Wednesday, the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) across Singapore ranged from 28-51, in the good to moderate range, while the one-hour PM2.5 readings were in the normal range, said NEA.

Additional reporting by Norbakti Alias

Source: CNA/nc(hs)

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