Rain puts out brush fires on Rapu-Rapu island
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay—What the Philippine Air Force’s special helicopter called “Bambi bucket” could not stop, the rains did.
“God took care of the cloud seeding,” said Albay Gov. Joey Salceda of the intense rain that poured Tuesday morning over Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay where fires had razed more than 2,000 hectares of grasslands and forced the evacuation of over 3,000 families or 17,000 persons.
The brush fires on Rapu-Rapu might have continued spreading for a fifth straight day on Tuesday but then it rained hard in the morning.
Salceda, in his post in Facebook, noted PAF’s helicopter bucket called “Bambi” had already dumped 45,000 liters of water on the fires on the second day of its operation on Monday but the fires continued to rage.
He said officials at one point considered cloud seeding but could not find a plane to do it. But then it rained on Tuesday morning, prompting Salceda to declare “crisis is over.”
The fires had razed 2,093 hectares of grassland and caused the evacuation of 3,647 families (17,075 persons) from five villages on Monday night and Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday morning, 2,362 families (11,122 persons) from the four villages of Morocborocan, Mananao, Buenavista and Guadalupe followed orders from provincial authorities to evacuate due to the fire.
This was on top of the 1,850 families (5,953 persons) from Sitio Pitogo who were forcibly evacuated Monday night.
Rapu-Rapu Vice Mayor Nora Oñate, in a phone interview, said classes in the villages of Morocborocan, Buenavista and Mananao were suspended on Tuesday due to the fire.
Salceda, in his Facebook post, said that after Tuesday’s downpour, another PAF flight mission took off for Rapu-Rapu to conduct mapping, mopping-up and clearing of the remaining embers, especially on an isolated patch of land in Pitogo where no human settlement was threatened.
The PAF mission included personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
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