Bukit Udal fire sparks health concerns
| Siti Hajar |
A THICK cloud of black smoke raised health and safety concerns for both local authorities and the public, particularly residents, yesterday morning following a fire at the Bukit Udal Dump Site.
A Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) press statement said the fire had engulfed a portion of the tyre stock yard at the dumping site that resulted in “dark fumes” that could be seen from the highway as it made its way across parts of the Tutong area.
When contacted, the Fire and Rescue Department said that a distress call was received at around 10.05pm on Sunday night and firefighters from the nearest fire station supported by four other nearby branches – SPARK, Seria, Sungai Liang and Jerudong – were dispatched to the scene.
The latest update from the Ministry of Development’s Facebook page made at 6pm yesterday stated that there were still parts of the yard containing embers from the fire that had to be attended to – almost 24 hours after the call was made, indicating the severity of the incident.
Four fire engines and three support trucks were deployed to the scene and among the strategies used to contain the fire, stated JASTRe, were creating fire breaks using bulldozers and the use of firefighting foam.
Though the cause of fire is still under investigation, the Tutong Fire and Rescue Department Station Commander, did not rule out the possibility of arson, stating that a similar incident on a smaller scale had taken place just a week ago.
Since 2006, the used tyre dump site has been managed by JASTRe. A private firm is expected to take over the management of the site.
“As an interim (measure), the department through a separate contractor had arranged and stacked the used tyres in blocks with an eight-metre space as fire breakers in between,” stated JASTRe.
“Although the risk was anticipated, used tyres theoretically are inert unless they are ignited”, and prolonged exposure to “very high temperatures” is required to set the tyres alight.
The air quality in the Tutong area will be continuously monitored and the public will be kept informed of the air quality through local radio and television, whilst updates will also be provided on the JASTRe website.
A few dozen photos of the incident were published by the Ministry of Development on its Facebook and has been repeatedly shared by netizens who expressed shock over the possible environmental impact.