Several areas in Brunei Muara District are currently experiencing hazy conditions caused by bush and forest fires which have also affected the air quality. Most of the fires occurred in Rimba, Lambak Kanan and several areas along the Muara-Tutong Highway. A report from the Meteorological Department on the long term weather forecast indicates Brunei Darussalam has entered the second phase of the North-easterly season that started around early February. Normally during the season, the country experiences stable and dry weather. Based on climatology, the months of February and March are categorised as the two driest months with total rainfall of 157 millimetres in February and 130 millimetres in March according to the Normal Rainfall Average for Brunei Darussalam. The impact of the weather during the second phase of the North-easterly season are reduced rain activity and fall and the increase in haze and fog formation in the early morning capable of reducing horizontal visibility, raising maximum daily air temperature to more than 34 degrees Celsius, dry condition that causes fire risks and hazy conditions. The statistics of forest and bush fires calls received by the Fire and Rescue Deparment from January to 15th March 2019 are as follow:
The forest and bush fire on the 14th of February involved a house in Kampung Medewa and on 17th February, a fire at an abandoned house occurred in Kampung Terunjing. An investigation by the Fire and Rescue Department discovered the fire was caused by an unsupervised open fire. Hence, the Fire and Rescue Department has reminded the public not to carry out open burning, either to clear land for farming or house compounds and other areas such construction sites which could spread and cause a big fire and destroy property, extinguish cigarettes and do not throw cigarette butts rampantly. For people who like to hunt or other activities or recreation in the forest, avoid lighting a camp fire and if necessary ensure the fire and cinders are extinguished completely before leaving the area. When camping or picnicking make sure to put out the grill fire. Be cautious and reduce speed while driving past a forest fire area because the smoke could obstruct vision and cause accidents. The public can cooperate by reporting to the Fire and Rescue Department when they see smoke caused by forest or bush fire or any emergency by calling 995 and the Darussalam hotline 123 to report open burning.
On finding a small fire anywhere such as bush fires along the roadside, the public are hoped to help and cooperate in extinguishing the small fire before it spreads to and becomes a huge fire. Before putting out the small fire ensure your safety first.
In connection to the forest fire video that was viral on social media, it did not happen in the country. The Fire and Rescue Department would like to stress that spreading unconfirmed information, especially when it is false and fabricated with the intention of causing confusion, is an offence and can be reported under the Public Order Act, Chapter 148, Section 34, that anyone who uses verbal, written or any other methods to spread a false report or statement which disrupts public peace could be imprisoned for 3 years and fined 3 thousand dollars.
The Fire and Rescue Department also advises the public not to make viral any video related to forest or bush fires. For further information contact the Public Relations Section at the Fire and Rescue Headquarters through lines 2380402/409, extension 111 during office hours. The air quality recorded at observation stations in the four district is high compared to normal and within the Good and Moderate levels.
Source: Radio Television Brunei