Smoky Days on Bangka Island: Haze from Sumatra’s Forest Fires Affects Locals

Smoky Days on Bangka Island

So, people in Muntok, Bangka Barat, which is part of the Bangka Belitung Province, are having to deal with something they didn’t expect: smoke from forest fires in South Sumatra. People in Muntok are afraid about how the haze might affect their health and daily lives because it has been like this for three days.

South Sumatra’s Daily Haze Package

The head of Bangka Belitung’s Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), Mikron Antariksa, said that the smoke haze in Muntok has been a problem for the last three days. This “delivery” of haze comes from South Sumatra and tends to roll in in the morning and stay for 1–2 hours before going away.

Mikron says that this smoke show usually takes place around 6:00 AM. Even though haze is a regular thing, it chose to show up at 8:00 AM today, which is a bit late, but it wasn’t as thick. Mikron is making it clear that if the fires in South Sumatra don’t stop, there could be more “shipments” of smoke coming.

Concerns about visibility and being safe

Even though smoke from land and forest fires is making it hard to see in Muntok, things seem to be going pretty well. Even so, the BPBD of Bangka Belitung didn’t want to take any risks, so they gave out thousands of masks to head off any possible breathing problems.

“The visibility is still the same in Muntok, and there’s nothing big going on—just a thin haze. But we’re being safe and making sure that people don’t have coughs or other breathing problems,” Mikron said. Oh, and for good measure, they threw away 10,000 masks.

Fajar, a local, said that the dust is making it hard to go about daily life. Fajar said the smoke was “quite thick,” and he didn’t hide the fact that it hurt him and made it hard to breathe.

“There’s been a lot of smoke. “I haven’t felt right since yesterday, and it’s hard for me to breathe,” he said. “Usually, the smoke clears up by noon. This smoke looks like a present from South Sumatra. But it’s still fine to see,” Fajar said.

As long as forest fires continue to bother South Sumatra, the effects are spreading to Bangka Barat, sending these unwelcome smoke “deliveries.”

Still a Thing: Land on Fire in Bangka Tengah

In the same way, a lot of land burned down last Wednesday near the office of the Bupati Bangka Tengah in the Bangka Tengah Regency. Mikron, who was there, guessed that by Wednesday night, 55 hectares had been burned.

“I’m checking the scene, and the 55-hectare area in Bangka Tengah is still on fire as of tonight,” said Mikron. Even though everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at it, the fire stayed strong because it was windy and hot and dry.

“It’s been two days, and the fire is still going strong. Even with more than ten fire trucks on the scene,” Mikron said. To stop the fire from spreading, they brought in the big guns and used heavy tools to build barriers.

They are also sending in extra help, such as three water cannon units from the Regional Police of Bangka Belitung, to help fight the fire. Keranggan, Padang Mulia, and Kampung Jawa, which are just a stone’s throw away and 100 metres from the fire, are the three towns that will be affected.

Bangka is dealing with the effects of forest fires

As Sumatra deals with the effects of forest fires, nearby islands like Bangka face problems they didn’t expect. People in Muntok have to deal with smoky mornings, and people in Bangka Tengah have to deal with large-scale land fires. The effects of these environmental problems felt far beyond the places directly affected. Solving these problems will take teamwork and planning, which shows how the health of the nature in the archipelago is all tied together.