Bali Volcano Fires: Forest fire on Mount Agung slopes still burns, flames at Batur extinguished

Smoke comes from a forest fire on the slopes of Bali’s Mount Batur on Oct. 8, 2018. Photo: @seracera via Denpasar Viral

It’s been dry in Bali lately, which has made it difficult to fully put out forest fires that have been burning on two of the island’s volcanos.

Firefighters are struggling to extinguish a forest fire that broke out on the slopes of Bali’s Mount Agung in Karangasem on Sept. 27.

The burn hasn’t been an easy one to put out, since the fire burns at a high altitude and access is all but impossible with zero trails in some spots with steep terrain.

Complicating the issue is that hotspots lie above the four kilometer exclusion zone around Agung’s crater, put in place by Indonesia’s volcanology center since the volcano remains on level III, or “standby” status for an eruption.

Head of the Kubu Forest Police, Made Putra Ariawan confirmed to Bali Post on Thursday that the fire, located on the western slope, has not spread to the eastern slope as well.

Smoke puffs are still visible.

“Right now, we are monitoring with Babinsa (village guard), monitoring the fire from Banjar Apadsari Batudawa Kaje, Tulamben Village, Kubu,” Ariawan said.

With hot weather, a lack of rain, and strong winds, the fire has moved with ease, says Ariawan.

Head of the Karangasem Fire Department I Nyoman Sutirtayasa previously told reporters shortly after the burn broke out that his department has been coordinating with officers from East Bali Forest Protection Management (RPH).

The firefighting effort was mainly concentrated on the border of the exclusion zone to prevent the fire from spreading to slope-side villages.

Mount Batur

As for the forest fire that sparked on the slopes of Mount Batur in Bali’s Kintamani regency on Monday, officials say the fire has been successfully extinguished as of Wednesday.

The fire was fully put out by a joint team of firefighters and local villagers, head of East Bali Forest Management Unit I Made Warta.

Local villagers gave up water from their tanks because of the remoteness of the fire location, the burn couldn’t be reached by the “firefighting fleet.”

“Bringing water to the location was quite difficult,” Warta told Bali Post.

But they warn that the potential for “aftershocks” or a subsequent fire remain high, because officers in the field observed areas still holding heat.

“Even though the fire has now been extinguished, we continue to monitor the field 24/7, with our group of farmers and forest villagers,” he said.

It’s believed that the fire at Mount Batur is a result of hot weather in an ongoing drought, Head of the Emergency Section of the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) of Bangli Regency, I Ketut Agus Sutapa, said.

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