Central Kalimantan needs helitanker support aerial firefighting

id Kotawaringin Timur District, helitanker

Fire is ravaging an area in Kotawaringin Timur District, Central Kalimantan Province (Photo Satgas Karhutla)

Sampit, C Kalimantan (ANTARA) - The Kotawaringin Timur Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) needs a helitanker to back its efforts to extinguish wildfires ravaging more than 60 hectares of land in Bagendang Hilir Village, Central Kalimantan Province, the agency's official said.

"The aerial firefighting equipment is needed in Bagendang Hilir Village because the fire-ravaged areas are large, and water sources are located around five kilometers away from the main road," Head of the agency's emergency and logistics unit, Yephi Hartady Periyanto, said.

The Kotawaringin Timur District Government had issued a wildfire alert status to anticipate the occurrences of land and forest fires, from July 3 to Oct 30, 2019, Periyanto said while speaking to journalists here Thursday.

The wildfires have ravaged certain areas outside Sampit city amid this year's dry season.

The fires engulfed the areas of Bagendang Hilir Village in Mentaya Hilir Utara Subdistrict; Batuah Village in Seranau Subdistrict; and Ujung Pandaran Village in Teluk Sampit Subdistrict, he said.

The worst wildfires were found in Bagendang Hilir Village because the ravaged areas had reportedly reached more than 60 hectares while the width of areas that firefighters could have extinguished just reached around 15 hectares, he said.

"The hurdle is the location which is so far away and it is difficult to access water sources," he said.

Several provinces in the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sumatera have frequently been at the receiving end of recurring bush and forest fires partly due to vulnerable peatlands, and the ongoing agricultural practice of slash and burn.

In South Sumatra, the police had issued an ultimatum to the province's plantation companies and farmers to not use slash and burn methods during this year's dry season.

The slash and burn agricultural practice is completely prohibited as it can trigger the occurrences of land and forest fires that cause a haze. (INE)

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