Fuad Iqbal Abdullah, Banjarbaru – Indonesian authorities deployed two helicopters to conduct water bombing operations in burning forests and peatlands across Kalimantan but the efforts did little to stop fires from expanding due to strong wind and dry summer, an official said on Friday.
Wildfires were initially detected on Monday in the regions of South and West Kalimantan, causing thick smoke to engulf residential areas and creating hazardous conditions for motorists due to reduced visibility.
The lack of natural water sources in the area has further complicated the aerial firefighting efforts, according to Rahmat Hidayat, an official from the South Kalimantan branch of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
"BNPB helicopters are engaged in the mission, and we hope that the weather will be in our favor. However, the land is dry, and there are no nearby water resources," Rahmat said.
The focal point of the aerial operations is the town of Banjarbaru in South Kalimantan, where wildfires have already destroyed at least 5 hectares of peatland, he added.
Motorists in the town have reported discomfort due to smoke-obscured roads, noted the official.
Meanwhile, new fire hotspots continue to emerge due to the persistent strong winds.
Dwikorita Karnawati, the Head of the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency, has cautioned that El Nino conditions could exacerbate the dry season, potentially escalating the wildfire situation to levels seen in 2019.