KOTA KINABALU: The state Fire and Rescue Department is receiving an average of 80 calls per day about bushfires in the past two weeks.
Director Kamarulzaman Malik Abdullah said Tuaran and Keningau had the most reports.
“Open burning activities are contributing to the haze. Although (the haze) subsided somewhat yesterday because of rain, the department has now received more calls involving bushfires in several areas.
“The fires are not spontaneous. They are man-made,” he told the New Straits Times today.
Kamarulzaman said most of the bush fires were occurring by the roadside, and in farms or orchards.
He said forest reserves were not affected.
He said firefighters were working round the clock to respond to bushfires.
He said the department had recorded one death so far.
On Monday, the body of a 87-year-old man was found after firefighters put out a fire at a fruit orchard in Kampung Mansud, Kuala Penyu.
According to the Environment Department’s portal, Sabah is recording moderate Air Pollutant Index (API), with Kimanis having the highest reading of 69 at 1pm today.
The second highest API reading was in Kota Kinabalu (63), followed by Labuan (59) and Keningau (54).
The API reading in Sabah’s east coast is relatively good with Sandakan recording a reading of 27, while Tawau was 38.
State Environment Department director Tunku Khalkausar Tunku Fathahi told NST that the API readings had improved, compared with readings taken on March 15 and 16.
“The department is increasing patrols and enforcement against open burning.
“All quarters are advised to look after their own land, so that they do not catch fire and there is no open burning.
“Open burning on peat soil is completely prohibited.
“The public is advised to limit outdoor activities and wear N95 masks to protect against poor air quality.”