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Wildfire on Mount Merbabu, Central Java, continues to spread: Posing a challenge to containment efforts

Mount Merbabu in Central Java is grappling with an expanding wildfire, making it increasingly challenging to control the flames. Efforts to contain the blaze face growing difficulties as it continues to spread.

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CENTRAL JAVA, INDONESIA: The Mount Merbabu forest, located in Semarang Regency, Central Java, has been ablaze since the morning of Friday (27 Oct).

The Mount Merbabu National Park Office (BTNGMb) reported that the affected area primarily consisted of bushes and hardy plants.

Unfortunately, strong winds and scorching weather conditions have hindered the firefighting efforts.

The charred landscape falls within the Mount Merbabu National Park’s conservation area and comprises bushes and perennial vegetation.

Nurpana Sulaksono, the Acting Head of the Mount Merbabu National Park Office, expressed that the flames had devoured not only the bushes but also numerous pine trees.

The initial discovery of the fire took place at approximately 08:30 AM local time on that fateful morning, pinpointing two fire hotspots in the Tajuk Village vicinity of Getasan District, Semarang Regency.

Nurpana Sulaksono couldn’t confirm the cause of the fire yet but indicated that human activities were a likely factor, stating, “We still don’t know the cause, but human activity is a strong possibility, and we are in the process of investigating it.”

The fire on Mount Merbabu has continued to expand, and by the last update on Sunday (29 Oct), it had not been extinguished.

This uncontrolled blaze has now extended into the Boyolali Regency region, with flames observed in the forest near Mongkrong Hamlet, Jlarem Village, Gladagsari District, Boyolali Regency.

Plumes of smoke continue to rise from the mountain’s slopes, with some being particularly dense.

To address the wildfire, a dedicated command post has been established in Dukuh Mongkrong, Jlarem Village, focusing on the Mount Merbabu National Park’s conservation area.

The firefighting efforts involve a coalition of personnel, volunteers, and local communities who are tirelessly working to contain the blaze.

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(Photo: X/pendakilawas)

As of the latest update, an estimated 489 hectares of Merbabu forest had already been consumed by the flames.

In response to this challenging situation, authorities in Boyolali have set up two Command Posts in Dukuh Mongkrong, Jlarem Village, and Ngagrong Village, Gladagsari District, to deal with the Mount Merbabu forest fire.

In addition, there are plans to deploy air support for firefighting, specifically utilizing water bombing aircraft, as manual suppression has proven difficult due to the scale of the fire and the relentless winds.

391 residents evacuated as Mount Merbabu fire rages on, forcing closure of climbing routes

It is worth noting that the fire began in the Mount Merbabu National Park conservation area, impacting the daily lives and safety of local residents.

The Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) of Semarang Regency reported that 391 residents from Batur and Tajuk Villages in Getasan District, Semarang Regency, had been evacuated to escape the consequences of the Mount Merbabu fire.

The thick smoke generated by the fire has raised health concerns for these residents, prompting the availability of round-the-clock medical personnel.

Additionally, due to the ongoing fire, all climbing routes on Mount Merbabu have been closed.

This measure is enforced in accordance with a notice from the Mount Merbabu National Park Office.

The closure, effective since Saturday, 28 October 2023, is for an unspecified duration.

Furthermore, the online booking quota for climbing in November 2023 has been temporarily suspended, but climbers who have already made payments are allowed to reschedule their trips.

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