Heatwave sparks forest fire alert

KUANTAN - The sweltering heat and haze over the past two days have not only made people here uncomfortable, but has also prompted the Fire and Rescue Department to be on the alert for forest fires.

In the past, prolonged dry spells would trigger forest fires in the state, especially in peat swamps that have dried up.

"We have been on standby since last month as the dry season normally begins in May.

"Fortunately, not a single peat fire has been reported and checks by the Department of Environment (DOE) show that the water table in the peat swamps is high," said state department deputy director (operations) Zulfahmi Sutaji.

Zulfahmi said it was a challenge for the Fire and Rescue Department as every year, some of these areas would be affected by fire during the dry period and worsen the haze.

"DOE and our firefighters are monitoring the situation and will immediately put out bush fires, no matter how small they are," he said, adding that there were several fire cases involving dried lalang fields reported in the past week.

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