Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – A district administration has reported another forest fire that has erupted near the Lake Toba tourist area in the North Sumatra regencies of Simalungun and Samosir, with suspicions that the blaze was started by land clearing activities for agricultural plantations.
According to Elysse S. Sinaga, the head of Haranggaol Horison district in Simalungun regency, the fire in Haranggaol subdistrict allegedly spread from neighboring Purba district as a result of slash-and-burn agriculture.
"The fire has reached the forest areas in Haranggaol," Elysse told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
North Sumatra Forestry Agency chief Herianto confirmed that the wildfire had burned through at least 10 hectares of forests and vegetation, and that the agency had deployed firefighters to the affected areas.
"We are having difficulties fighting the fire due to lack of personnel and the difficult [local] terrain," Herianto added.
Last month, one person was killed when fire erupted in the Lake Toba tourist area in Muara district, North Tapanuli regency. The fire burned through at least 50 ha of land in the mountainous region, with local authorities also experiencing difficulties in containing it.
The fire claimed the life of local resident Natal Simaremare, 50, whose charred remains were found in Sitanggor village. Witnesses told police that Natal had been killed when he slipped while battling the flames.