El Niño-induced wildfires break out in Mindanao, Visayas

El Niño-induced wildfires break out in Mindanao, Visayas

El Niño-induced wildfires break out in Mindanao, Visayas

VILLAGE THREAT A grass fire has already spread across a two-hectare area at Barangay Bata in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, by the time this drone shot was taken on Tuesday morning. JOSE ANTONIO ROSELLO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Rising heat levels due to the El Niño weather phenomenon have been causing wildfires in various parts of Mindanao and the Visayas, with the latest on Wednesday threatening to engulf the airport in General Santos City (in Soccsksargen or Region 12).

Firefighters battled for four hours a wildfire in Barangay San Isidro that broke out around 11 a.m., was put under control after three hours and eventually put out by 3 p.m.


It was the most serious incident so far since wildfires broke out in various parts of Mindanao beginning last month.


READ: Wildfires still raging in 3 areas in Benguet, reports OCD

San Isidro village chief Edward Frederick Yumang led the barangay’s fire and rescue brigade in extinguishing the blaze, aided by the Bureau of Fire Protection’s Calumpang substation and the fire brigades of Calumpang, Labangal and Bula villages, the firefighting team of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and three volunteer fire brigades.

The fire, according to Yumang, started inside the airport compound but no damage was reported to its facilities and other nearby properties.

On Wednesday, General Santos City was expected to register a heat index of 38 to 40 degrees Celsius and a video shared on social media by a certain Francis Sablon taken from inside a landed plane showed thick smoke hovering near the airport’s traffic control tower.

Near airport

Six days earlier, a wildfire also broke out near the airport compound in Barangay Fatima.

The most wildfires, per monitoring by the Inquirer, were in Koronadal City, the capital of South Cotabato province, with six incidents starting on March 4.


The most serious was on March 19, in Barangay Paraiso, when the blaze threatened a power distribution facility, leading to an unscheduled power interruption in the city.

Wildfires also broke out in Banga, Tantangan and Polomolok towns.

In Cotabato province, a grass fire spread on Tuesday night and engulfed portions of an oil palm plantation in Mlang town, local media organizations reported.

Also, on Tuesday night, a fire spread across a grassland in the hinterlands of Sta. Cruz town, Davao del Sur, toward its boundary with Digos City. The fire was put out by 2 a.m. on Wednesday through the combined efforts of the fire stations of Digos, Sta. Cruz and volunteer firefighters.

Rising heat index

In Bacolod City, at least 13 fire incidents, 10 of which were grass fires, were recorded on April 2 amid the forecast heat index of 42 C.

A grass fire with alarmingly huge flames hit seven hectares near the Northbound Terminal in Barangay Banago at 5:41 p.m. and was extinguished around 8 p.m., the Bacolod City Fire Station reported.

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez visited the Missionaries of Charity in Barangay Banago, which cares for the indigent elderly and sick, as the alarm was raised since the raging grass fire was close to their facility and the smoke could be harmful to its patients.

Benitez said the nuns and patients at the facility were okay.

A grass fire also hit two hectares in Barangay Bata at 7:46 a.m. and was declared out at 9:51 a.m.

Fire also destroyed the house of Roland Dillapeña Tulopia at Bangga Totong, Barangay Felisa, Bacolod City, while rubbish and vehicular fires were also reported on Tuesday.

Early reporting crucial

Benitez called on the public, as well as all barangay and purok officials, to be extra vigilant against grass fires and other fire incidents and to immediately report them to the nearest fire station, said lawyer Caesar Distrito, the mayor’s spokesperson.

“The mayor also asked barangays to organize or reactivate volunteers as part of the firefighting initiatives of the city,” Distrito said.

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The mayor reminded Bacolod residents to avoid burning their garbage and to make sure fire-prone and combustible materials were stored safely.

TAGS: grassfire, heat index

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