The Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has said that the Riau firefighting team had extinguished fires on 1,125 out of 1,264 hectares of land and forest in the province.
"As of Sunday, both air and land firefighter task forces have put out fires on 1,125.25 hectares of area by using, among others, weather modification technologies," BPBD Riau head Edwar Sanger said as quoted by Antara in Pekanbaru on Thursday.
He said that as of July 26, the Riau air firefighting team, together with other teams including those from two big companies in the province, had carried out 25 fire-extinguishing processes by using weather modification technologies that involved several helicopters.
The operations were part of efforts to reduce the bad effects of smoke exposure due to land and forest fires in 12 regencies and municipalities throughout Riau. The disaster might get worse as the dry season is predicted to last until December.
The Riau Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned of the possible impact of El Niño in several provinces, including Riau, in Indonesia. The weather phenomenon, which is associated with ocean warming that develops in equatorial Pacific areas, has led to an extreme dry season, making some areas prone to land and forest fires.
"For three days, from July 24 to 26, we spread 55.28 tons of salt as a kind of artificial rain. It means we brought around 2.4 tons of salt on each flight," said Edwar.
Plantation company Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) said that it had helped the Riau firefighting task force to extinguish fires both inside and outside its concession areas in Pelalawan by using a helicopter.
"We found fire spots during a patrol in areas around RAPP concession areas that border with the Tesso Nilo National Park (TNTN). We reported our findings to TNTN officers and the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA)," said the head of RAPP's firefighting team for the Ukui area, Almei Hendra.