Bush fires break out in Changi and Bukit Brown

Bush fires break out in Changi and Bukit Brown
Firefighters tackling the blaze at Bukit Brown Cemetery on 12 March 2014

Firefighters spent two hours putting out a large fire at Bukit Brown Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon as Singapore's spate of bush fires continued during the record-breaking dry spell.

The blaze near Kheam Hock Road covered an area the size of 1½ football fields, according to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which was alerted to it at 11.55am.

Two fire engines and one Red Rhino were deployed.

A second bush fire on Wednesday near Aviation Park Road in Changi took firefighters about four hours and seven water jets to extinguish. SCDF was alerted to the blaze at 4.09pm. It involved "pockets of fire" in an area about eight football fields in size. Five fire engines, five Red Rhinos and nine supporting vehicles were sent.

No injuries were reported in both fires.

There have been 198 bush fires in the first two months of this year, compared with just 25 during the same period last year, latest SCDF figures show.

Last Wednesday, a patch of forest near the MacRitchie Reservoir nature trail caught fire, while blazes have also broken out in vegetated areas in Yio Chu Kang, Punggol and Jurong East in the past fortnight.

Singapore is enduring one of its longest stretches of dry weather with barely any rain. Last month was the driest since 1869.

February is typically drier than other months here, which can lead to a higher risk of fires starting as vegetation dries out.

An SCDF spokesman said most of the fires have been minor, and there were no injuries.

The number of bush fires this year has already eclipsed the 185 for the whole of last year.

But it still pales in comparison to 2005, when a long dry spell sparked 800 fires, some of which even forced residents to evacuate their homes.

The SCDF said it is closely monitoring the trend and has stepped up patrols in vegetated areas. It has also sent an advisory asking government agencies in the Wildfire Task Force Committee to put in place fire prevention measures on land under their jurisdictions.

These include trimming vegetation more frequently, keeping land moist and building fire breaks or barriers to contain their spread.

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