Fire destroys 35-ha of grassland in Quezon mountain
LUCENA CITY–A forest fire destroyed more than 35 hectares of grassland atop Mount Masalukot in Candelaria town in Quezon province on Tuesday, an official of Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said.
Fire Insp. Jonathan Malundas, chief of the Candelaria fire station, said that according to the village chieftain of Barangay Masalukot 3, the forest fire stopped spreading before midnight Tuesday.
“There were drizzles last night that helped put out the blaze,” Malundas said in a phone interview.
The forest fire that razed a “cogonan” area started early afternoon from the boundary of Dolores and Candelaria towns.
Senior Fire Officer 1 Susana Pedernal, Dolores fire station chief, said strong winds changed the direction of the fire.
“It did not spread towards Mount Banahaw,” she said in a separate phone interview.
Pedernal blamed the slash-and-burn farmers (kaingeros) as the possible culprits behind the fire.
But the experience of another threatening fire in Mount Banahaw prompted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to raise their alert and protection level.
“We’re now maintaining strict monitoring on all possible entry points to Banahaw against intruders,” said Salud Pangan, DENR park superintendent for the adjacent Mounts Banahaw and San Cristobal.
Masalukot lies within the buffer zone of Banahaw and San Cristobal, both declared protected landscapes. In April 2016, an 18-hour fire also destroyed more than 50 hectares of cogon land atop Masalukot.
Pangan said they wouldn’t take any chances to prevent another fire in Banahaw similar to 2014.
In March 2014, a forest fire damaged a portion of Banahaw and destroyed endangered plants and killed and displaced animals.
The fire on the western slope of the volcanic crater facing Sariaya town was believed to have been started by backpackers who ignored a ban on trekking within Banahaw./lb
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