KOTA BARU, April 4 — The Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department recorded 577 fire cases in the first three months of this year, compared to 257 cases during the same period last year.

Its director, Zainal Madasin, said 339 of the total cases involved open burning while the rest involved residential or commercial premises.

Expressing concern over the surge, which amounts to more than a 50 per cent increase, Zainal attributed it to the prolonged hot weather and drought conditions that have affected the state for the past two months.

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“As of March 25, a total of 244 bushfire incidents were recorded, followed by rubbish fires (63), forest fires (23), peat fires (six), and plantation fires (three).

“We have identified 39 open burning hotspots, namely eight in Bachok, 12 in Pasir Puteh, six each in Pasir Mas, Kota Bharu and Gua Musang and one in Tumpat,” he told reporters at the launch of Ops Siaga Raya Aidilfitri here today.

The programme was launched by state Local Government, Housing, Health and Environment Committee chairman Hilmi Abdullah.

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Meanwhile, Zainal said the department would focus on 57 accident hotspots during Ops Siaga Raya from today until April 14, adding that 52 cases were recorded until April 1, resulting in 13 fatalities and 73 injuries. — Bernama