The Star, 19 Feb 2014
PETALING JAYA: Open, peat and bushfires are breaking out at the rate of 305 a day across the country as the dry spell continues.
In the first 18 days of this month 5,485 such fires were reported, compared with 440 for the whole of February last year.
The 1,100% increase is mainly due to the drought, said Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim, who also blamed those who carelessly threw their lighted cigarette butts on the ground.
“In a normal situation, open burning can be controlled. But under dry conditions, a spark can cause a fire that spreads quickly,” he added.
He told The Star that his men were now fighting major fires in Terengganu, Selangor, Pahang, Perlis, Kedah and Perak.
“Two hundred and twelve men have been battling fires on 1376.6 acres (557ha) of land.
“We have put out fires on about 1270.3 acres (514ha) of the affected areas and are creating fire breakers to stop the other fires from spreading,” Wan Mohd Nor said.
Between 8am on Monday and 8am yesterday, the states with the most fires were Perak (70), Selangor (66), Kedah (63), Malacca (39), Johor (28) and Penang (26), he said.
Wan Mohd Nor said that low water pressure and the absence of fire hydrants were among the problems his men faced.
He cited an instance at Tok Kah in Dungun, Terengganu, when water tankers had to be brought in to fight a fire.
He also said the firemen often had to use water from ponds and rivers.