Many hurdles in bid to douse Sumatra fires

A helicopter carrying water attempting to extinguish a fire raging at a peatland forest in Pelalawan district, Riau province, last Friday. More than 5,000 personnel, including reinforcements from the military and police, have been deployed to Riau to
A helicopter carrying water attempting to extinguish a fire raging at a peatland forest in Pelalawan district, Riau province, last Friday. More than 5,000 personnel, including reinforcements from the military and police, have been deployed to Riau to curb the spread of plantation and forest fires.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Strong winds, deep peatlands and the distance from natural water sources are the biggest challenges facing firefighters in Riau province as they battle to tame haze-causing forest fires - including many started deliberately by recalcitrant farmers looking to clear land.

Flames had been doused in many peatlands but the fires re-emerged in areas where the peat was deeper than 3m after travelling below ground, said head of emergency response Jim Gafur at the disaster management agency in Riau, the Sumatran province close to Singapore.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2019, with the headline 'Many hurdles in bid to douse Sumatra fires'. Subscribe