Another deadly forest fire, on East Java's Mount Lawu. (Antara Photo/Siswowidodo)

Four Killed Trying to Quell E. Java Forest Fire


OCTOBER 30, 2015

Jakarta. Four men have been killed in a forest fire while trying to extinguish the flames in East Java's Ponorogo district on Thursday.

The four killed in the concession of state logging firm Perhutani, in Slahung subdistrict, were identified as Perhutani official Suyitno (43) and three locals Budianto (30), Paijun (25), and Jaimun (44).

The fire, which has consumed some four hectares of the pine forest, broke out on Thursday at 10 a.m., prompting a group of men to head there to extinguish the fire, but suddenly the wind picked up and fanned the deadly flames.

“They all panicked and ran for their lives. However, when they got to a safe distance away from the fire, they realized four were missing,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said in a statement on Thursday.

“The group then went searching for the missing members and at 2 p.m., they found the four men, who had died from [severe] burn injuries,” Sutopo added. "It seems the victims passed out after having been exposed to the thick smoke [prior to their deaths]."

Forest fires throughout Indonesia since July have so far killed at least 24 people: 12 in Sumatra and Kalimantan, eight on Mount Lawu, East Java, and now four in Ponorogo.

Large parts of Indonesia are experiencing extreme drought because of the El Nino weather phenomenon. The fires, often started by people to clear land for agriculture, have also created a massive and ongoing haze crisis.