Indonesia: Four Hectares of Vacant Peatland Catch Fire in Riau

Jakarta Globe 10 Feb 18;

Jakarta. A fire engulfed four hectares of peatland in Pulau Muda, Riau, police said on Friday (09/02).

Adj. Sr. Comr. Guntur Aryo Tedjo, a spokesman for the provincial police, said a team consisting of officials from the Indonesian Military (TNI), local police and Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), as well as local residents and companies, have coordinated efforts to extinguish the fire.

"We are still working to extinguish the fire ... the latest reports is that the rage has dwindled to smoke, but we still have to be aware because there is fire on the ground," Guntur said in Pekanbaru, Riau's capital, according to state-controlled news outlet Antara.

He said the authorities utilized a firefighting helicopter, supplied by a local pulp and paper company, to assist in combating the fire. "In addition to our team on the ground, the extinguishing process involves aerial firefighters to wet the peatland with water."

Guntur added that police are still gathering information and investigating the cause of the incident.

"The burnt peatland is not occupied. We are still investigating the cause of the fire."

He said one suspect in connection with the local peat fires was arrested by the local police in early February.

The police commander urged the public and companies to avoid clearing land by fire, adding that arsonists can face prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines of up to Rp 10 billion ($735,000).

"We hope that no one will use the land by burning as the punishment is heavy. Let’s prevent land fire."

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