Fire in Bali
Bali, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, is grappling with a crisis threatening its natural beauty. The island's longstanding waste management issues have collided with an extended dry season, resulting in a devastating fire. From the sprawling Suwung landfill site to the revered slopes of Mount Agung and Mount Batur, Bali is on fire. This article delves into the factors contributing to this catastrophe, shedding light on the island's waste mismanagement and the impact of the prolonged dry spell.
The Suwung TPA Landfill on fire
On the fateful morning of October 12th, flames engulfed the Suwung TPA landfill site in South Denpasar, casting ominous plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles. The fire's fury intensified as it consumed the waste, blanketing the area in a thick shroud of white smoke. Disturbingly, air quality in the southern regions of Bali plummeted to hazardous levels, painting a grim picture of the immediate health risks. The fire, which initially razed 2 hectares of the landfill, continues to rage, propelled by relentless winds.
Battling the Blaze: A Grueling Effort
The firefighting endeavour at Suwung TPA has been a Herculean task, with six Denpasar Fire Department units aided by Gianyar and Badung Regencies reinforcements. Heavy machinery, including loaders and excavators, laboured to carve a path for emergency vehicles through the trash-strewn landscape. This monumental effort underscores the urgency of addressing waste management on the island.
Unearthing the Roots: Waste Mismanagement
Bali is famous for over-development in the tourism sector but often delays infrastructure development, including waste management systems. One clear proof of this challenge is the Suwung TPA, a landfill with poor management. The process of extinguishing the fire has been going on for almost 2 weeks, leaving the island in a precarious state. Suwung TPA is located close to main roads and famous beaches, so tourists can easily see and inhale the smoke. The interest in this fire letter is a reflection of the serious problems in waste management in Bali. Due to negligence in maintaining waste management on this island, the fire at the Suwung landfill became worse due to the hot sun in the dry season mixed with methane gas produced by piles of rubbish. The government is urging the public to keep their waste because the landfill cannot accept additional shipments.
Mount Agung and Mount Batur: Sacred Peaks in Peril
The dry season also causes fires at the Sacred Mount Agung, a revered emblem of Balinese spirituality. The friction of dry branches and strong winds caused the fire to appear and spread very quickly. While such incidents are common during dry seasons, the extent and intensity this year are alarming. Over 745 hectares of forested landscape in Karangasem Regency have succumbed to the flames. Mount Batur, too, felt the searing touch of wildfire. Swift action by a joint team of firefighters and local villagers averted a more extensive catastrophe. However, lingering heat pockets signal the potential for future outbreaks, highlighting the need for ongoing vigilance. The fire on Mount Agung was reported to have been extinguished on October 17 2023. This fire is said to be the biggest fire in the last 10 years (the last fire in 2012).
The Perfect Storm: Prolonged Dry Season and Winds
The protracted dry spell in Bali has exacerbated the wildfire crisis. Water scarcity, coupled with rugged terrain, hampers firefighting efforts. The challenge is further compounded by the high-altitude location of the fires, especially on Mount Agung, where access is treacherous. Strong winds, sweeping across the island, fan the flames, leaving firefighters grappling with an ever-shifting battlefield.
Hope for the Extinguishment of the Fire
Efforts to extinguish the fire at the Suwung Final Disposal Site, Denpasar, continue to show significant progress. The Chief Executive of the Bali Province Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), I Made Rentin, revealed that after 11 days of extinguishing operations, the handling had reached an astonishing figure, reaching 50 per cent of the total area burned. In his explanation to journalists in Denpasar, Bali, Monday (22/10), Rentin said that BPBD's daily evaluation with stakeholders showed that the source of the burning embers was at a depth of 10 to 15 meters below the mountain of rubbish, with a height reaching 40-45 meters. Rentin is optimistic that this blackout effort will achieve full handling by the end of October 2023, in accordance with the disaster emergency period established with the Bali Provincial Government on Thursday (19/10). Rentin also expressed his hope that the fire emergency response period in Suwung would not need to be extended so that on October 25, extinguishing efforts could end well. He emphasized that the transition period would be a key time to cool down and redesign waste management, including providing services to local communities that have been affected so far.
Bali's fiery ordeal is a stark reminder of the urgent need for comprehensive waste management reform and heightened environmental stewardship. As the island grapples with this dual menace, concerted efforts to mitigate waste accumulation and tackle the escalating wildfire crisis are imperative. Through collective action, Bali can reclaim its natural splendour and safeguard its precious ecosystems for future generations.