Mt. Apo forest fire still raging as of Sunday night, threatens more areas
DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur — The forest fire that hit Mt. Apo has not been controlled yet, as of Sunday night, and many areas, including the Digos City side of the country’s highest peak, are now at risk of being affected as well, according to officials.
In Kidapawan City in North Cotabato, Mayor Joseph Evangelista admitted that firemen and volunteers trying to contain the fire – which has devastated over 100 hectares already since 1 p.m. Saturday – were ill-equipped to prevent it from further spreading.
Evangelista said they could not use helicopters too to fight the fire with the use of chemicals and water as the wind has been too strong for any aircraft.
Edgardo Elera, Digos City tourism and promotions officer, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that they were trying to determine where in Mt. Apo could they insert volunteers to clear the areas and prevent the fire from further spreading. Elera said they have requested the Philippine Air Force to conduct an aerial survey.
“We could not just send our people there without knowing the extent of the fire. It is imperative that we know where our point of reference is so that we can effectively contain the fire while ensuring the safety of our firefighters,” Elera said after a multi-agency meeting held in Barangay Kapatagan here late Sunday afternoon.
Elera said the initial plan was for fire volunteers to be inserted some two kilometers away from the rim of the fire.
As of Sunday night, the fire was heading towards the Bansalan town portion of Mt. Apo, said Gary Einstein Taghoy, executive officer of the Digos City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.
Taghoy said unless immediately put under control, there was a big possibility that the fire would also spread towards the Digos City side of the mountain.
“The North Cotabato and the Digos sides are adjacent to each other,” he said. SFM
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