JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A forest fire in Indonesia's Riau province that has been burning for more than a week has expanded as haze spreads to more cities in the area.
The Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD Riau) revealed that, as of Sunday (March 10), the fire had spread across nearly 1,700 hectares of land from a little over 1,100 ha on Feb 28, causing smoke in Pekanbaru and Dumai.
BPBD Riau acting head Ahmadsyah Harrofie said Bengkalis regency was currently the worst affected area, as quoted by tempo.co.
Forest fires are still spreading throughout Dumai, Meranti Islands and five other regencies. Ahmadsyah said the agency's task force was continuing its attempt to extinguish fires in all areas.
Riau Forest Rescue Network (Jikalahari) coordinator Made Ali added that 63 out of 139 hot spots this week could potentially further ignite a fire.
However, he said that the air condition in Pekanbaru remained "good".
According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the air pollution standard index (ISPU) in Pekanbaru and Dumai is still at an "acceptable" level.
The index reached an unhealthy level in Bengkalis and five other regencies.