Hold Your Fire!
Hundreds of forest fires are spreading out of control in the Indonesian regions of Sumatra and West Kalimantan, sending up huge clouds of smoke and threatening air quality across Southeast Asia. The fires are blamed primarily on large plantation owners and small farmers who illegally set blazes to clear forest land. Air pollution from such fires in Indonesia has become an annual problem during the region’s midyear dry season, and in 1997 it became an environmental disaster when a thick haze engulfed Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei, causing serious health problems and hurting the tourist trade. After the 1997 disaster, Indonesia strengthened its environmental laws, but they are not being enforced.