TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency or BMKG Pekanbaru Station in Riau has detected 20 hotspots indicating forest and land fires in six provinces in Sumatra.
“Hotspots at above 50 percent confidence level are spread across the provinces of Riau, Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Jambi and Bengkulu,” BMKG Pekanbaru head Sugarin said in Pekanbaru on Monday, April 24, 2017.
He explained that the number of hotspots detected by Terra and Aqua satellites at 6 a.m. local time yesterday had increased compared to Sunday afternoon, 23 April, at 15 hotspots.
Riau Province has the most hotspots with 7 out of 20 detected in Sumatra. Four hotspots were detected in North Sumatra, three each in West Sumatra and Aceh, two in Jambi and one in Bengkulu.
Sugarin explained that seven hotspots in Riau were spread across five districts, namely two hotspots in Siak and Singingi and the rest were detected in Bengkalis, Indragiri Hilir, and Pelalawan.
Of seven hotspots in Riau, three were confirmed as active fires or indicating forest and land fires at above 70 percent confidence level. The three active fires were spread across Kuantan Singingi District with two fires and Bengkalis with one fire. Two active fires in Kuantan Singingi were detected in Kuantan Hilir Sub-district at between 80 and 98 percent confidence level.
Meanwhile, one active fire in Bengkalis was detected in Batu Bukit Sub-district at above 71 percent confidence level. Nevertheless, Sugarin said that in general, he foresees light rain potential in most of Riau regions.
However, he is wary of the transitional month from rainy to dry season which is expected in May. The dry season is predicted to happen until September 2017. “We should anticipate that in May-September wind pattern will change from the south to the north. Meaning that if fire takes place, the smoke will be blown to the neighboring countries,” he said.
Riau Governor earlier declared a state of emergency over smoke caused by forest and land fires in 2017, effective for 96 days from January to April 30.
BPBD reports that the first quarter of 2017 saw 300 hectares of land in Riau razed with fire. A task force has tried to prevent forest fires by stepping up joint patrol and establishing canals as well as detecting hotspots informed by the BMKG.