November 6, 2023
JAKARTA – The wildfire in Mount Rinjani National Park had spread to over 95 hectares on Thursday, up from 30 ha the previous day.
Nineteen fresh hot spots were discovered on Thursday, said Lalu Santawana, the head officer of forest and land fires for the national park. This brings the total number of hot spots to 26.
The wildfire broke out in Gomongan forest in East Lombok on Tuesday and is believed to have begun with a fire set by local hunters and made worse by the arid conditions caused by the prolonged dry season.
“The coordinates of the fire are 08°23’24.28” S 116°30’17.84 “E over an area of 30 ha,” said Dwi Pangestu, head of administration at the national park.
The vegetation burned in the fire includes shrubs, grass, dry leaves, bakbakkan trees, mountain fir and other types of plants, the official said.
According to a provisional report from the national park administrator, 55 ha of the Gomongan forest in Sembalun village had been engulfed in flame by Thursday.
Lalu said the fire on the upper part of Mt Rinjani’s northern slope had not been fully brought under control and five hot spots remained. He added that the flames could reach up to 5 meters high, making them difficult to extinguish.
The hilly and steep terrain and limited water supply are the main challenges in extinguishing the blaze.
Strong winds have also been blamed for difficulties in putting out the fire.
Drone monitoring shows that the hot spots in the national park are about 7 kilometers from residential areas.
Visual observations and digital maps show that the hot spots are 7.5 km from the nearest settlement and 3.4 km from the Sembalun Resort hiking trail.
Given such conditions, local authorities are considering closing the Mt Rinjani hiking trail via Sembalun. Hikers who have booked trips online will be rerouted to the Senaru or Torean hiking trails.