GEORGE TOWN (Feb 10): A heavy forest fire has hit Penang island with flames raging on a hill at Paya Terubong from about 6.30pm today.
State fire and rescue services squads are currently in the process of combatting the flames that could have possibly have come about due to the current dry spell in weather.
A state fire and rescue service department official confirmed that the fire was limited to the hilly forest area of Paya Terubong, and that there was no danger to any property.
However, the giant plumes of black smoke, as well as orange glow of the fire, were visible from several parts of Penang, causing some concern among residents.
Ash from the flames have also been felt in nearby areas around the hill.
A check by fz.com at 10pm found that the fire had appeared to have significantly abated.
However, the odour of burning – reminiscent to the haze Malaysia experiences due to forest fires in the region – was extremely strong in the air in many parts of the north-eastern side of the island.
Ashes from the fire had also reached residential places like Batu Lanchang, Gelugor, Seri Delima and Ayer Itam.
When contacted, Air Itam assemblyman Wong Hon Wai said the fire-fighters were facing difficulty as the flames were at high altitudes on the forested hill, making it quite impossible to access by foot in the dark.
“There is no access up the hill,” he said.
He also stressed that there is no cause for alarm, saying that it was a “bush-fire” and not a “forest-fire” as reported.
State Fire and Rescue Services Department Director Azmi Tamat is expected to hold a press conference during the department’s annual assembly at its state headquarters tomorrow morning.