Forest fire prompts closure of two schools in Johor


Modified 26 Aug 2019, 3:24 pm

Johor Local Government, Urban Well-being and Environment Committee chairman Tan Chen Choon today said the smoke from the fire can jeopardise the health of the students of the nearby SMK Tanjung Adang and SK Tanjung Adang.

“There was a suggestion to temporarily close the schools but the matter has to be conveyed to the education authorities,” he said.

Later today, the Johor Education Department approved the closure of the two schools on the advice of the state DOE.

Yesterday, Johor deputy director of education (learning) Sallina Hussain said the two schools remain open because the education department has not received any advice from the Department of Environment.

However, as a precautionary measure, the department has provided the pupils and students with face masks.

Meanwhile, Johor housing, communications and multimedia committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad (photo), who is also Kota Iskandar assemblyman, accompanied Tunku Ismail to inspect the scene of the fire this morning.

Dzulkefly said the various parties and rescue agencies still struggling to put out the fire comprised 70 officers and firefighters, including personnel from the Drainage and Irrigation Department, Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Iskandar Puteri Municipal Council and various other agencies.

“We just received two additional water pumps from Batu Pahat DID last night to help put out the peat fires on top and underneath the ground in view of the limited water supply for this operation,” he said in a statement today.

Works to dig out a trench was also ongoing to prevent the fire from spreading.

According to Dzulkefly, Kampung Pekajang and Kampung Tanjung Adang, located near the fire area, have 517 and 447 residents respectively.

In a related development, Johor Menteri Besar Dr Sahruddin Jamal said the 16-hectare forest fire in Kampung Pekajang, Gelang Patah, reported to have been burning since last Wednesday, involved privately owned agricultural land.

Sahruddin said a survey found the fire, 60 percent of which has been contained, did not involve forest reserves or state government land.

“Right now, various agencies are working to put out the remaining fire,” he said when met by reporters after a ground-breaking ceremony for the Kempas Interchange in Johor Bahru today.

Sahruddin said the state government took note and appreciated the advice of the Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim who ordered for schools in the area to be temporarily closed for the safety of the students.

He said the Johor government's administrative centre in Kota Iskandar, Iskandar Puteri would continue to operate as usual despite the surrounding haze.

- Bernama