The air quality in the country has been deteriorating lately with Sabah emerging as the worst-hit area...
Thick smoke from open burning and bush fires is causing breathing problems as well as stinging pain in the eyes for people in Sabah’s west coast, where haze is reported to be the worst in the state.
The situation worsens when the wind is strong as it fans the blaze which, in turn, causes bigger swathes of smoke.
Ashes from the burnt grass and trees can be seen everywhere. Anyone standing outside their car for less than a minute would already smell of smoke.
...and peat fires in the Binsuluk Forest Reserve in Beaufort and Kota Klias are the biggest contributor to the haze, according to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman
The Star reported that the fire on 27 March destroyed 200ha of the Binsuluk Forest Reserve and razed 20ha of the reserve area in Klias.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the relevant authorities are on 24-hour shifts and working round the clock, especially the State Fire and Rescue Department that is also coordinating their efforts with the Forestry Department to combat fires in Binsuluk Forest Reserve.
He said he had also directed the State Disaster Relief Committee and the respective district level committees to be on alert and report any open burning activities.
Additionally, Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that the farmers are the real culprits for conducting open burning in Sabah
“The fire spread to a forest reserve and also part of the palm oil plantation in Kampung Lumat, Beaufort,” he said.
“We are investigating and action will be taken accordingly when we receive the full report.”
Wan Junaidi said the Fire and Rescue Department managed to put out fires at the Tanah Gambut Klias Forest Reserve and the Tanah Gambut Binsuluk Forest Reserve through water-bombing and ground operations.
The worsening haze has caused 83 schools in Sabah to close down for two days, including today, 5 April
Acting Sabah Education Director Maimunah Suhaibul said all the schools are in the Beaufort, Papar, and Kuala Penyu districts.
"The total involves 53 schools in Beaufort, Papar (16) and Kuala Penyu (14) districts, with 22,782 students affected by the haze which has hit the districts," she told reporters.
Maimunah said, if other schools in the three districts were also affected by the haze, the schools could decide to close them by giving prior notice to the district education office and the state education department.