Thick smoke hung over the island of Borneo when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite passed overhead on October 5, 2006. The sensor detected scores of fires (locations marked in red) in the Kalimantan province of Indonesia, and smoke billowed northward over the Malaysian part of the island, as well. The fires occur annually in the dry season (August-October), caused mainly by land-clearing and other agricultural fires. Fires escape control and burn into forests and peat-swamp areas. Fires in peat—thick layers of dead, but un-decayed vegetation—are extremely smoky and difficult to put out. Some of the blazes will only be extinguished when the monsoon rains start in upcoming weeks.
Thick smoke buried the island of Borneo on October 12, 2006. The fires had been burning for several weeks, creating transportation and health problems across the region. Fires are common in the dry season, despite the Indonesian government’s efforts to control illegal burning.