The Riau administration has increased the emergency status for peatland and forest fires in the province to alert level 3 following fires that burned down hundreds of hectares of peatland as the region enters the dry season this year.
Acting Riau governor Wan Thamrin Hasyim said on Monday that the emergency status would remain in effect until May 31.
He said the province’s peatland and forest fire emergency status had been increased after three regencies, Bengkalis, Indragiri Hilir and Pelalawan, had declared the emergency status in response to the increasing risk of wildfires.
“After assessing the situation and getting input from all parties, such as regency administrations that have declared peatland and forest fire emergency status, I hereby decide that Riau is in a state of emergency for peatland and forest fires,” said Wan Thamrin in a coordination meeting.
"We don't want another haze disaster in Riau. We are anticipating it early by declaring the emergency status, so that we can immediately form a task force to take preventive action," Wan said.
He said prolonged hot weather had led to widespread forest fires in several regencies. Around 540 hectares of land had burned.Earlier this year, the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) detected 59 hotspots spread out across the province’s 12 cities and regencies. Pelalawan and Indragiri Hilir recorded the highest numbers of hotspots at 20 and 11, respectively.