The Labuan Fire and Rescue Services Department recorded 136 cases of bush and forest fires to date compared with only 47 for the same period last year, an increase of 170 per cent.
The prolonged dry spell has triggered a steady increase of bush fires island wide, placing the firemen on standby around the clock.
Its director Zainal Madasin told Bernama the fire had so far scorched more than 50 acres of idle land with a massive fire destroying three acres at Kg Kerupang.
“The 317 cases comprised 127 bush fire cases and nine forest fire cases so far. There was no forest fire recorded the same corresponding period last year,” he said in an interview today.
“The dramatic rise was due to the El-Nino phenomenon which is expected to last until April, and we expect the number of cases to increase if there is no rain for the next couple of days,” Zainal added.
“Based on our statistic, areas affected include Simpang Langkan, Jalan Bebuloh, Kg Sg Bedaun, Kerupang, Jalan Arsat, Jalan Batu Arang and Kg Ganggarak among others. I wish to thank the close cooperation of the public who alerted us of bushfires,” he said.
Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan in a statement in Kota Kinabalu today said the Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Department received 1,164 distress calls on cases of open burning from Jan 17 to March 13 this year, an increase of 4.11 per cent.