Firefighters battling to put out a massive forest fire in Johor’s Iskandar Puteri district have managed to extinguish about 70 per cent of the blaze, while two nearby schools which were ordered shut will reopen on Wednesday (Aug 28), Malaysian media reported.
State Local Government, Urban Wellbeing and Environment Committee chairman Tan Chen Choon told a press conference on Tuesday the forest fire situation in Kampung Pekajang, which started burning on Aug 21, was still critical, national news agency Bernama reported.
The fires, which were sparked by dry weather in the state, were spread by strong winds while new hot spots also caused the fire to spread.
A similar fire also broke out near Legoland Malaysia and a hotel in the same district last Saturday before it was put out by firefighters.
About 70 per cent of the 16ha of forest fire that is still burning has been successfully extinguished, Mr Tan was quoted telling reporters at the Tanjung Adang community hall in Gelang Patah, which has been the operations centre for the firefighting efforts.
The fire department’s Johor Zone 1 chief Mohamad Faizul Selamat said the firefighting team would employ a total flooding technique for the remaining 30 per cent of the fire that was still burning, although it was unclear what the flooding technique was.
Two schools affected by the ongoing fires, Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanjung Adang and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tanjung Adang, were ordered by the Johor Education Department to close on Monday.
The Johor Regent, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, who visited the area on Monday, also issued a royal decree for the schools to be temporarily closed due to their proximity to the forest fire to prevent the students’ health from being adversely affected by the blaze.
Johor Education Department deputy director for school management Ab Rahim Lamin said on Tuesday the schools would reopen based on the air quality results monitored by the Department of Environment.
“No smoke was detected in both the schools and the fire near the schools has also been contained by the Fire and Rescue Department,” Mr Ab Rahim told the Malay Mail Online website.
Mr Ab Rahim previously said precautionary measures would be implemented for the two schools if they were to be reopened on Wednesday. These included requiring all students to wear face masks and allowing students with asthma-related problems to skip classes until further notice.