Sabah’s burning, but it’s not the heatwave

27 Feb 2019 / 20:09 H.

KOTA KINABALU: While Sabah is not experiencing a heatwave at the moment — the maximum temperature is 33°C — the Department of Environment (JAS) Sabah has recorded a 500% increase in hotspots as a consequence of the hot weather, low rainfall and high level of open burning.

According to its director, Tunku Khalkausar Tunku Fathahi, the number of hotspots detected in February is 36, when in January it was seven in the state’s interior, west coast and Kudat.

“One of the causes for the increase in hotspots is irresponsible land clearing through burning. The uncontrolled fire then spreads to surrounding areas, including the forest reserve,“ she told Bernama today.

She said this week alone, nine hotspots were detected in Keningau, Kota Belud, Papar, Beaufort and Tawau.

She said with current conditions, open burning should stop because she fears local air quality will be affected.

She said five air quality monitoring stations are keeping an eye out and that from mid-January to this date, three in Kota Kinabalu, Kimanis and Keningau recorded a moderate Air Pollutant Index reading.

Meanwhile, Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) Sabah director, Kamarulzaman Malik Abdullah, said there were 494 open burning cases in February, an increase of 304 cases compared to January.

He said there were 317 bushfires, 131 forest fires, 22 smallholding fires, 18 landfill fires, five paddy field fires and one at a plantation.

Kamarulzaman said Tuaran recorded the highest number of occurrences at 75, followed by 69 in Kota Kinabalu, 55 in Keningau, 45 in Kota Belud, 39 in Kimanis, 36 in Papar, 27 in Penampang and 25 in Beaufort.

“There’s adequate equipment and the firefighters are well-prepared to face the likely increase in open burning incidents, as has been the trend in the past two weeks,“ he said.

Sabah Meteorological Department director, Azemi Daud, said the hot and dry weather in Sabah is expected to end in March, but in parts of Kudat, Sandakan and Tawau, it will continue till April. — Bernama

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