The Pulau Burung landfill has been declared a Level 1 disaster area based on a National Security Council (NSC) directive
According to New Straits Times, Seberang Prai Selatan police chief Superintendent Lee Chong Chern said, following the declaration, the public will no longer be allowed into the area.
The fire, which broke out last Wednesday, 12 January, has prompted evacuations and school closures over the past week. Some 400 residents from 86 families living near the 16-hectare landfill were ordered to evacuate due to the air pollution caused by the fire.
It was also reported that 10 schools located within a 10km radius of the landfill were ordered to close from today, 19 January, until Friday. Authorities made the decision after the district disaster management meeting yesterday.
So far, the fire has gutted about 6.5 hectares of the landfill and firefighters are using water bombing to put out the peat fire
State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said a helicopter from Subang, Selangor was flown in today to conduct the water bombing exercise, based on a report by New Straits Times.
The department carried out 16 rounds of the exercise, with each water bomb able to hold 1,600 litres of water. Authorities said there were positive results and will conduct more water bombing tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Fire and Rescue Department estimated that it will take up to two weeks for the fire to be completely extinguished
As of Monday, 17 January, firefighters reportedly only managed to extinguish 7% of the total 80% at the landfill.
Nibong Tebal fire and rescue station chief Noor Asfariza Mohamad Abdul Kadir said that the blaze not only involves the surface of the garbage pile but also the bottom, which is 15 to 20 metres deep.
She said they faced several constraints such as water and soil supply and routes for large water tankers to the fire site.
"Besides that, thick smoke also makes it difficult for us to do extinguishing work. Fire and thick smoke will be there especially at night due to the wind," she added.
She noted that the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
In 2019, toxic air pollution from a river in Pasir Gudang, Johor caused the closure of 13 schools and poisoned over 300 people: