Another fire breaks out in Penang hills

GEORGE TOWN - Another blaze has started at Bukit FRU, the scene of a forest fire that raged at its hill slopes over the past two days.

Penang Fire and Rescue Department director Azmi Tamat said the blaze at the new location in Bukit FRU was inaccessible.

However, the other fire at the hill has been extinguished together with five other furious flames at Penang Hill.

Another fire at the slope of Penang Hill had not been doused yet.

The location of the fire is close to the Penang Botanical Gardens and has not affected the funicular train service up the hill nor the tourist spot at the peak.

State secretary Datuk Farizan Darus said the entrances of trails up Penang Hill from the Gardens, Penang Municipal Park and Moongate would be closed to the public until further notice.

To get to the site of the fire, the firemen had to drive between 15 and 25 minutes in a 4WD vehicle up the road from the Gardens before walking a few hundred metres.

Firefighters created fire-breaks to prevent the remaining fire from spreading.

Penang Fire and Rescue Department director Azmi Tamat said two teams, comprising 40 firemen, were fighting the blaze with fire beaters and water from a river.

He said both blazes at Penang Hill and Bukit FRU could be put out by today if they are able to water bomb both locations.

Azmi said the Bombardier plane belonging to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, which was used to water bomb the fires on Wednesday, could not be used yesterday due to a "technical problem".

He said the plane is scheduled to continue the water bombing operations at 10am today.

"The plane can carry up to 6,000 litres in a single trip," he said, adding that it scoops up sea water off Gurney Drive and made up to seven trips an hour for the task.

"The bushfires are on slopes. It is challenging for my men to get to the burning spots because of the steep gradient of about 70 to 80 degrees," Azmi told reporters at the entrance of the Penang Botanic Gardens on the fire fighting operation yesterday.

Firemen are also battling bushfires in at least four spots in Bukit Gambier yesterday, using beaters and creating fire-breaks.

Azmi said the cause of the fires had yet to be ascertained and added that the hot and dry weather could be a factor.