Mt. Kanlaon erupts, ignites grass fires near volcano crater
BACOLOD CITY—Government authorities are working against time to put out a fire near the crater of Mount Kanlaon that could spread to a forest area.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Andres Untal said a long column of grass fires were raging at the upper Mansalanao, Cabagnaan and Biak na Bato portion of the volcano in La Castellana town in Negros Occidental.
The fire was suspected to have been caused by materials spewed during the explosion on Tuesday and there was a possibility that it could reach the forested area about 4 kilometers away, he added.
Untal said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the office of the Mt Kanlaon Natural Park Protected Area Superintendent and the Negros Occidental Provincial Risk Reduction Management Division were organizing a group of firefighters to put out the fire.
Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian, Negros Occidental Provincial Disaster Management Program Division chief, said they were putting together a team that would create a line to prevent the fire from crossing to the forest.
Mount Kanlaon, an active volcano located on Negros Island, remained restive yesterday although it was calmer compared to Tuesday’s night steam-driven or phreatic eruption.
The volcano was seen emitting moderate white smoke up to 500 meters above the crater.
From the southwest side of the volcano, the plume was observed to have reached 1,500 meters above the active crater.
Traces of ashfall were reported in La Carlota City and Pontevedra town in Negros Occidental, said Isagani Republica of the Negros Occidental Provincial Disaster Management Program Division.
Mount Kanlaon, which straddles the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, is a favorite spot for climbers.
With its twin-peaked massif rising 2,465 meters above sea level, the volcano is a centerpiece of Mount Kanlaon Natural Park, a national park located at least 30 km from Bacolod City.
On Nov. 24 last year, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology hoisted Alert Level 1 following a phreatic explosion.
The alert level indicated that the volcano remained in an abnormal condition and was in a period of unrest.
Trekking was strictly prohibited especially in the four-kilometer permanent danger zone due to the possibility of another explosion.