Wildfires raging on the slopes of Mount Lawu in East Java in August. A similar fire on Sunday has killed at least seven hikers. (Antara Photo/Siswowidodo)

Mount Lawu Forest Fires Spread to Central Java Towns


AUGUST 27, 2015

Solo. Fires raging through Gunung Lawu, a massive compound stratovolcano that spans the border of East and Central Java, have spread to residential areas in Karanganyar district, Central Java, authorities said.

The blaze started on Sunday and firefighters were still struggling to extinguish flames on Wednesday evening, said Margo Saptono, a member of the forestry police.

He added that volunteers were working hard to prevent the fire from spreading further into villages located near Ceto Temple, a 15th-century Javanese-Hindu temple situated in the western slope of Mount Lawu.

The area's rocky terrain has made it difficult for workers to reach the blaze, said Nugoroho, chief of Karanganyar's Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).

"The area has steep cliffs and rivers," he said.

Bibit Suyono, coordinator for volunteer group Anak Gunung Lawu said the organization has put a stop to mountain climbing activities at Lawu mountain indefinitely for safety reasons.

Gunung Lawu is known for its relatively easy climbing tracks, making it a very popular destination for mountain climbers and tourists.

"We closed the track down two days ago," Bibit said, adding that the fires may spread to climbing routes.

Hundreds of volunteers and officers from the National Police and Indonesian Military have struggled to extinguish the flames, which have grown larger due to strong winds.

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