KITAKYUSHU, Japan -- A Japanese soap company has developed a fire-extinguishing agent that is both powerful and easy on the environment. It is looking to market the product in Southeast Asia and other places prone to forest fires.
Indonesia and neighboring countries are plagued by fires every year around September, after the dry season. The blazes are blamed mainly on slash-and-burn clearing of land for farming. Indonesia is particularly susceptible because it has vast peatlands: Once they catch fire, they can continue to smolder underground even after the battle appears to have been won.