Wind, deep peatland and lack of water among obstacles in tackling Riau land fires

More than 5,000 personnel, including reinforcement from the military and police, have been deployed to Riau to help curb the spread of plantation and forest fires.
More than 5,000 personnel, including reinforcement from the military and police, have been deployed to Riau to help curb the spread of plantation and forest fires.PHOTO: RIAU DISASTER MANAGEMENT AGENCY

JAKARTA - Strong wind, deep peatland and 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 three metres after travelling below ground, according to Mr Jim Gafur, head of emergency response at the disaster management agency in Riau - the Sumatran province close to Singapore.

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