The fires still burn, I can feel the heat even in my dreams

Conservation Blog

The hot winds blow against my face and I’ve been breathing in toxic smoke for more than two months. I can feel the anger of many people in my village. I am angry; my family is suffering from the fires and smoke too.

I am Idrus and I live in Kereng Bangkirai Village, near Sebangau Forest. I joined CIMTROP’s Community Patrol Team, supported by BNF, to protect the forest and so protect my family. I know it is my responsibility to save the forest and wildlife that lives within it.


Dark sky covering Sebangau Forest
Photo by Abi Gwynn | BNF | LLG UPT CIMTROP

Last Monday was the worst smoke that we’ve seen during these two months. I can remember clearly the sky was the darkest it has been since this year’s fires began. Sebangau Forest is still burning; the fires are not out and continue to threaten more than 6,000 orangutans and other wildlife.

Community Firefighting Teams used the thermal drone that morning to check where the fires were burning. From the drone’s thermal camera we could see that a large area was burning again. As soon as we knew the location, we brought all the hoses and other equipment needed to tackle the fires. Once again, we had to fight the fire and breathe in the toxic smoke. We worked all day to prevent it from spreading into the forest. It was just a few kilometres from the research camp.


Adit and Idrus fly the drone to check fire hotspots
Photo by Suzanne Turnock | BNF | LLG UPT CIMTROP

I am exhausted and haunted by this fire even in my dreams. My team coordinator, Krisyoyo, was really stressed by these dangerous conditions.
We have been living in a very basic camp at the edge of the forest for nearly two weeks now, working tirelessly day and night. We want to go back home, to our families, and breathe clean air. We are all hoping the rainy season will come soon.

I know I’m not alone. We must all be brave to stop the fires spreading into the forest. Many people are depending on us.

Thank you to all those who have been supporting our work here on the frontline. We would certainly not be able to fight these fires without your help.


Community Firefighting Teams have worked tirelessly for over two months in dangerous conditions
Photo by Suzanne Turnock | Abi Gwynn | BNF | LLG UPT CIMTROP