Fires rage in Pahang

A large number of bushfires have been reported throughout Malaysia during the month-long dry spell plaguing the country.

KUANTAN, Malaysia - Over the past four days, Fire and Rescue Department personnel were forced to battle under the sweltering heat to contain bush and peat soil fires along Jalan Kuantan-Pekan near Penor here.

Besides strong winds and low water pressure, their efforts, which began on Wednesday, were hampered by the surrounding thick jungle. Firefighters used machetes to clear the path for the fire trucks to move closer to hot spots.

To minimise the possibility of bush fires spreading to the nearby Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom Children's Home and the Penor Prison complex, firefighters dug trenches along the fireline.

Pahang Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (Operations) Wan Mohd Nazlis Wan Ismail said firefighters throughout the state have been on round-the-clock duty to combat the bush fires, which covered close to 50ha of land.

"Our firefighters are forced to walk 2km into the dense jungle to reach the source of the flames.

"It has been a challenging task, but we have managed to pull through. Six teams, led by the Fire and Rescue Department's elite team, have been tasked with locating and putting out the fires.

"We have managed to control 40ha of the affected area. However, due to the continuous spate of hot weather, new hot spots have appeared," he said when met at the temporary base set up at the children's home.

He said an underground well dug up by the state Minerals and Geoscience Department had provided the firefighters with water to douse the flames.

On Feb 26, the fires, sparked by the dry spell, forced police to close the Kuantan-Pekan stretch for two hours after thick smoke blanketed the area.

The smoke, which could be seen 20km away, reduced visibility to less than 15m.