Johor fire chief says open burning main cause for forest fires in state

Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Yahaya Madis (second from left) and MACC director Datuk Norazlan Mohd Razali shake hands in Johor Baru September 11, 2019. — Picture by Ben Tan
Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Yahaya Madis (second from left) and MACC director Datuk Norazlan Mohd Razali shake hands in Johor Baru September 11, 2019. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, Sept 11 — Uncontrolled open burning was identified as the main cause for the destruction of more than 48ha of forest areas in Johor recently, said state Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Yahaya Madis.

In Johor, he said there were three hotspots, with the biggest being Muar with 20ha destroyed, followed by Pontian (12ha) and Gelang Patah (16ha) recently.

“About 60 per cent of the open burning in Muar has already been put out, while in Pontian the department has achieved about 70 per cent.

“For Gelang Patah, the operation to extinguish the blaze has ended, but there are still some reports of small fires occurring there, but is managed by the Iskandar Puteri Fire station,” explained Yahaya.

He said this after the department took the anti-corruption oath before the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Newly-appointed Johor MACC director Datuk Norazlan Mohd Razali was present to witness the ceremony held at the state Fire and Rescue Department headquarters at Jalan Kangkar Tebrau here today.

Despite the ongoing task to extinguish the remainder forest fires, Yahaya said that the situation was under control.

He said there was no urgent need for federal assistance.

“We have enough manpower and assets to contain the situation, besides receiving assistance from agencies such as the Public Works Department, the Drainage and Irrigation Department and also the Civil Defence Force,” said Yahaya.

He explained that lower rainfall in the last few weeks have worsened matters.

“The department urges the public, especially landowners and farmers, to avoid any open burning activities to clear their land,” said Yahaya.