Haze could return to Singapore, after second fire hotspot discovered in Johor

FILE PHOTO: Reuters/Edgar Su
FILE PHOTO: Reuters/Edgar Su

The much-dreaded haze could return to Singapore if fires from hotspots in Johor continue, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a media statement on Wednesday (27 February).

The agency said that it received multiple reports from members of the public about a burning smell across many areas of Singapore on Tuesday.

NEA had earlier noted a hotspot in southern Johor, 30 kilometres east of the Republic. The Department of Environment (Johor) has since informed the NEA that there was a fire at Punggai, near Bandar Penawar, in the area of an oil palm plantation. It was caused by the hot weather in parts of Johor.

NEA added, “The firemen from Bandar Penawar and plantation workers have just managed to put out the fire, after fighting the fire for the past few days. This effort was also helped by the rainfall on (Tuesday), although 20 per cent of the area remains smoky.”

Second hotspot detected

However, the NEA said it detected a second hotspot in Johor, about 50 kilometres to the east-northeast of Singapore.

“The smoke plume from the hotspot was blown to the southwest by the prevailing northeasterly winds,” it said in the media statement.

“If the fires in Johor continue, some smell and haze may be expected in Singapore.”

The NEA said that February is normally a dry month in the surrounding region. Extended periods of dry weather can lead to outbreaks of land and vegetation fires.

PSI in Good to Moderate range

As of 9am on Thursday, the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) across Singapore ranged from 42-55, in the Good to Moderate range, while the 1-hr PM2.5 readings ranged from 14-25µg/m3, in Band I (Normal). Given the current air quality, normal activities can go.

SOURCE: National Environment Agency
SOURCE: National Environment Agency

“We are closely monitoring the air quality and will provide updates on any significant changes to the air quality situation,” the NEA said.

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