2 Johor schools closed as forest fire rages

Some 16ha of forest at Kampung Pekajang in Johor started burning last Friday afternoon due to the current dry weather. Strong winds then caused the fire to spread, engulfing some 98ha of the forest.
Some 16ha of forest at Kampung Pekajang in Johor started burning last Friday afternoon due to the current dry weather. Strong winds then caused the fire to spread, engulfing some 98ha of the forest.PHOTO: BERNAMA

State authorities say it is expected to take days to extinguish blaze in Iskandar Puteri district

JOHOR BARU • Malaysian firefighters have been battling for days to extinguish a massive forest fire in Johor's Iskandar Puteri district that has caused two nearby schools to be closed.

Some 16ha of forest at Kampung Pekajang started burning last Friday afternoon due to the dry weather in the state. Strong winds then caused the fire to spread, engulfing some 98ha of the forest.

Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Yahaya Madis said around 80 firemen have been fighting to prevent the fire from spreading further, and since Sunday, they have extinguished the fire at 45 per cent, or 44ha, of the area.

"Today it drizzled a little, and this did not have much effect on the operation. Based on the current situation, it is expected to take four days for the fire to be extinguished," national news agency Bernama quoted him as saying on Sunday.

"But if the 'flooding' technique can be completed immediately, there is a possibility that the fire will be extinguished soon," he said.

Datuk Yahaya did not elaborate on the flooding technique.

The Johor Education Department yesterday ordered two schools in Iskandar Puteri - SMK Tanjung Adang and SK Tanjong Adang - to be closed for two days due to the forest fire, reported The Star.

The deputy director in charge of school management Ab Rahim Lamin said the action was taken following the advice of the Johor Disaster Committee.

'FLOODING' TECHNIQUE

Today it drizzled a little, and this did not have much effect on the operation. Based on the current situation, it is expected to take four days for the fire to be extinguished... But if the 'flooding' technique can be completed immediately, there is a possibility that the fire will be extinguished soon.

JOHOR FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR YAHAYA MADIS, who says around 80 firemen have been fighting to prevent the fire from spreading further.

"For the safety of students, teachers and staff at SMK Tanjung Adang and SK Tanjong Adang, which are located near the forest fire, the department has taken the decision to postpone the school sessions on Aug 26 and Aug 27. This means the students do not have to be present at their respective schools, while teachers and staff must report to schools near their homes," he said.

Earlier yesterday, the Regent of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, visited the area and issued a royal decree for SMK Tanjung Adang to be temporarily closed.

A statement posted on Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar's official Facebook page said Tunku Ismail had decreed that the school, which has 200 students, should be closed for the time being for the sake of its students.

Mr Yahaya said his department had utilised five 20,000-litre capacity water tankers to help extinguish the fire.

He added that water had to be taken from nearby hydrants because the capacity of the river in the forest could not accommodate the firefighting operation.

 

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Yahaya told Bernama that there were suggestions for cloud-seeding activities to be carried out in the area to help the firefighting operation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2019, with the headline '2 Johor schools closed as forest fire rages'. Print Edition | Subscribe