INDONESIA: A devastating wildfire has continued to blaze in the picturesque Mount Bromo area of East Java for five consecutive days, since Wednesday (6 Sep).
This fire, which originated from sparks from a pre-wedding photoshoot, has engulfed more than 274 hectares of land and forest in the Bromo region, according to Satriyo Nurseno, Head of the Emergency and Logistics Division at the East Java Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD).
Nurseno reported, “The total affected area is over 274 hectares. The current situation is better than it was a few days ago, but there are still remnants of the fire and active hotspots.”
Efforts to suppress the flames are ongoing. The Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park Authority (BB-TNBTS) has reported the initial discovery of seven fire spots, with only one remaining as of the latest update.
Hendro Wijanarko, Head of BB-TNBTS, emphasized, “Our focus remains on the firefighting process. Once extinguished and confirmed that there is no more fire or smoke, we will assess the extent of the burnt land and promptly inform the public.”
Wijanarko also stated that the assessment of the burned area’s size can only be carried out once all fire spots have been completely extinguished. Once the situation is under control, BB-TNBTS plans to reevaluate the reopening of the area to tourists.
He added, “The remaining fire spot is located near Gunung Watangan. We need to ensure that there is no more fire or smoke in the vicinity of Gunung Watangan.”
To bolster firefighting efforts, TNBTS has deployed additional teams to assist the personnel already on-site. Wijanarko further commented, “Firefighting can even be conducted at night while monitoring for any new fire spots.”
The wildfire in Bromo has also drawn the attention of Khofifah Indar Parawansa, the Governor of East Java, who has called for additional water-bombing helicopters. On Saturday (9 Sep), Khofifah urged BB-TNBTS to send a request for extra water-bombing helicopters to the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) to extinguish inaccessible fire spots.
She stated, “The helicopters are currently stationed at Kaliandra, so once TNBTS sends the request, the helicopters can move to Bromo. If the request is made through a formal letter, the helicopters can be here at Bromo tomorrow.”
Gatot Soebroto, Head of the East Java Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), confirmed that BNPB’s helicopters have conducted five rounds of water bombing. Weather conditions with fog and distant water sources have posed challenges in the field.
“Challenges faced on the ground include limited water sources and foggy weather, which only allowed the helicopters to conduct aerial monitoring. We hope for clear weather tomorrow (11 Sep) so that helicopter firefighting can be carried out,” Gatot mentioned on Sunday (10 Sep).
Gatot also explained that BNPB’s helicopters remain on-site to assist with water bombing, but suitable weather conditions are essential for this operation.
Currently, ground teams, consisting of approximately 70 personnel, including local volunteers, BPBD, the military, police, TNBTS, market vendors, and Jeep drivers, continue their efforts to combat the fire via land routes.
Meanwhile, the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park Authority (TNBTS) has taken strategic steps to control the wildfire in the Mount Bromo region. After completely closing access to Mount Bromo for tourists, all access routes to the National Park have also been shut down.
According to Septi Eka Wardhani, the Head of the Administrative Division at TNBTS, “To facilitate the firefighting process and ensure the safety of visitors, all access to and through the National Park has been completely closed.
The closure went into effect on Sunday, September 10, 2023, starting at 19:00 WIB, with an undetermined duration.” Septi added that this closure applies to all entry points, including Coban Trisula in Malang Regency, Wonokitri in Pasuruan Regency, Cemorolawang in Probolinggo Regency, and Senduro in Lumajang Regency.
Furthermore, as the tourism authority in the Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru region, TNBTS has urged the public, visitors, and tourism service providers to safeguard the National Park from wildfires.
“By refraining from lighting fires or any similar activities, including fireworks and flares, for the sake of safety, security, and collective comfort. Please also report any fire spots within the TNBTS area to the authorities,” Septi emphasized.
Previously, the Mount Bromo wildfire was declared partially under control on Saturday (9 Sep).
However, on Sunday (10 Sep), the fire rekindled and expanded, leading to the complete closure of the National Park area.
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