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June 27 2013 5 27 /06 /June /2013 06:04

Johor Baru - Malaysia can send up to 1,200 fire fighters to fight the forest fires in Indonesia, said the Fire and Rescue Department.


The troop could be assembled in stages within 24 hours, said its director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim.

"Once both governments give the nod, my men can be mobilised, similar to what was done during our deployment to Indonesia during the 1997 haze," he told The Star here yesterday.


In 1997, 1,200 firefighters were sent to Indonesia to put out the forest fires during a mission which lasted for about a month.


Wan Mohd Nor added that each state would be required to contri­bute its personnel if a massive mobilisation was necessary.


Wan Mohd Nor also said that compared with 1997, the department was better prepared to handle forest fires due to better water pumps and other equipment.


He added that the firemen selected for this mission would comprise both fresh and experienced men, especially those who have experienced the harsh terrain in Indonesia in the past.


Wan Mohd Nor explained that many fires in Indonesia involved peat soil, which was difficult to douse as the soil was metres deep into the ground.


"One way to douse such fires is to flood the entire area with water.


"Since the 1997 fires, we have invested heavily on equipment to handle forest fires," he said, adding that so far there had been no request for assistance from his counterparts from Indonesia.


Wan Mohd Nor added that any request for assistance would be handled between the Malaysian and Indo­nesian governments.


On local forest fires, he said that currently there was a spike in the number of fires.


He said there were eight major fires involving 83.2ha in Selangor, Johor and Terengganu.


"We have deployed some 159 firefighters to extinguish the fires There are four fires in Selangor itself - at Klang, Sungai Besar, Bistari Jaya and KM25.4 along the Elite Highway.


"The present haze is not due to our local fires but due to the hotspots in Indonesia," Wan Mohd Nor said.


Indonesia should accept M’sian help
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: SwitchUp.tv, The Star, AFP, Reuters)
Air quality drops further in Malaysia
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: SwitchUp.tv, The Star, NASA)

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