Schools affected by forest fire in Johor to reopen as 70 per cent of blaze is put out

Members of the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia working to clear a forest fire in Jalan Tanjung Kupang, Kampung Pekajang, near Gelang Patah yesterday. At least 140 officers from the fire department, as well as those from the irrigation and the
Members of the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia working to clear a forest fire in Jalan Tanjung Kupang, Kampung Pekajang, near Gelang Patah yesterday. At least 140 officers from the fire department, as well as those from the irrigation and the environment departments, are involved in the firefighting operation.PHOTO: BERNAMA

ISKANDAR PUTERI • Firefighters battling to put out a massive forest fire in Johor's Iskandar Puteri district have managed to extinguish about 70 per cent of the blaze, while two nearby schools which were ordered shut will reopen today, Malaysian media reported.

State Local Government, Urban Wellbeing and Environment Committee chairman Tan Chen Choon told a press conference yesterday the forest fire situation in Kampung Pekajang, which started burning last week, was still critical, national news agency Bernama reported.

The fire, sparked by dry weather in the state, was spread by strong winds while new hot spots also caused it to spread.

A similar fire also broke out near Legoland Malaysia and a hotel in the same district on Saturday, before it was put out by firefighters.

About 70 per cent of the 16ha of forest fire that is still burning has been successfully extinguished, Mr Tan was quoted as telling reporters at the Tanjung Adang community hall in Gelang Patah.

The hall has been serving as the operations centre for the firefighting efforts.

The fire department's Johor Zone 1 chief Mohamad Faizul Selamat said the firefighting team will employ a total flooding technique for the remaining 30 per cent of the fire that was still burning, although it was unclear what the flooding technique was.

Two schools affected by the ongoing fire, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanjung Adang and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tanjung Adang, were ordered by the Johor Education Department to close on Monday.

The fire department's Johor Zone 1 chief Mohamad Faizul Selamat said the firefighting team will employ a total flooding technique for the remaining 30 per cent of the fire that was still burning.

The Johor Regent, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, who visited the area on Monday, also issued a royal decree for the schools to be temporarily closed due to their proximity to the forest fire. The closures were aimed at preventing the students' health from being adversely affected by the blaze.

Johor Education Department deputy director for school management Ab Rahim Lamin said yesterday the schools would reopen based on the air quality results monitored by the Department of Environment. 

"No smoke was detected in both the schools and the fire near the schools has also been contained by the Fire and Rescue Department," Mr Ab Rahim told the Malay Mail Online website.

 

Mr Ab Rahim previously said precautionary measures would be implemented for the two schools if they were to be reopened today.

These included requiring all students to wear face masks and allowing students with asthma-related problems to skip classes until further notice.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2019, with the headline 'Schools to reopen as 70% of Iskandar Puteri fire is put out'. Print Edition | Subscribe