Brace yourselves, Malaysia and Singapore. The haze is coming.

On July 1, 2020, the Indonesian government declared a state of emergency due to the risk of a forest fire erupting.

Indonesian officials have detected over a hundred hotspots that have the potential to grow into a full-blown forest fire — the same kind of fire that erupted in Central Kalimantan in 2019.

The fires were so intense that it turned the skies red and blanketed the majority of Southeast Asia in smog, or what we know better as haze.

It was the worst since 2015, around 1.6 million hectares of forests were burnt down. This time there are growing concerns that the country would not be capable enough to control these fires due to most of their efforts and funds being routed to the coronavirus efforts.

Central Kalimantan disaster mitigation chief Darliansyah said that officials detected over 700 hotspots around the region. These hotspots were detected using a satellite, which predicted there’s a high chance forest fires will start.

 

To ensure it doesn’t get out of hand, the region started water bombing the areas where the first fires began in May 2020. Firefighters have also begun cloud seeding to encourage rain in these areas as well.

They mentioned that these operations would last until the end of September, which is when the dry season will end.

These fires usually start because the land needs to be cleared for plantations such as palm oil and others. But most of the time, these fires can get out of hand. In fact, in 2019, the smog was so bad that schools around Indonesia had to close.

It even affected other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, where the Air Quality Index was in the hundreds, which is considered unhealthy and unsafe for certain groups.

Let’s hope that Indonesia is able to control these fires before it gets out of hand.

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Cover image sourced from Hamodia and TODAYOnline.