Indonesia's Mt. Merbabu closed due to fire

Indonesia's Mt. Merbabu closed due to fire
A raging forest fire engulfing Mount Merbabu.
PHOTO: AFP

All hiking trails to the peak of Mount Merbabu in Central Java have been closed because of savanna fires that started burning on Wednesday.

According to head of data, information and public relations at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) in Purwo Nugroho, there were initially 11 separate fires on Mt. Merbabu on Wednesday afternoon, spread across a 25 hectare area.

At dawn on Friday, the fires had reportedly spread further.

Mount Merbabu National Park Conservation Center officer Wawan said on Friday morning that park management was coordinating to battle fires at four of the hot spots.

"We decided that all hiking trails to the peak are to be closed as of Thursday evening," said Wawan as quoted by tribunnews.com.

On Thursday evening, 25 climbers that had already been on the mountain for three days were forced to come down.

Rino Mahardika, an officer at the search and rescue (SAR) team post, said that the fires can only be extinguished during the day due to their locations on the side of cliffs.

"It will be dangerous if we extinguish the fires after dark," said Rino on Thursday night.

He added that the most likely cause of the fires was unattended campfires lit by climbers.

"August is the season for climbing. A couple of days ago, after Independence Day on Aug. 17, Mt. Ungaran [also in Central Java] also caught fire," said Rino.

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