Apo firefighters conduct cloud-seeding operations
DIGOS CITY—Authorities have conducted cloud-seeding operations over Mount Apo, hoping that these would bring enough rains to douse a fire that has been raging for the past 10 days.
The Philippine Air Force has fielded at least three helicopters to join the fire-fighting mission in Apo, the country’s highest peak and top mountaineering destination, and spread in Davao del Sur and North Cotabato provinces.
The aerial efforts started as soon as the fire on Apo became serious on Black Saturday. The fire, however, was difficult to control and it engulfed more forested areas and grasslands days later.
Harry Camoro, spokesperson for the Incident Management Team for the Mt. Apo fire, said the helicopters sprayed water and dropped crushed ice on Tuesday, even as active embers at the foot of the mountain had been rekindled near Digos City in Davao del Sur.
But the flights were stopped after about an hour because of the thick cloud formation that obscured the pilots’ visibility, Camoro said.
The Department of Agriculture in Southern Mindanao has been undertaking cloud-seeding operations since Sunday. On Tuesday, rain fell over Apo’s Kapatagan area but, Camoro said, it was too early to say if it doused the fire.
At the rate the fire was raging, the official was not certain when the operations would end.
Joselin Marcus Fragada, regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, called for more volunteers to speed up efforts to contain the fire. At least 200 volunteers are currently establishing 15-meter-wide fire lines.
Rye Glenn Trinidad, president of Mindanao Mountaineering Federation, quoted some of the volunteers as saying that it was difficult to fight the fire with only a handful of people.
Liza Mazo of the Office of Civil Defense said at least 400 more people were needed. Camoro agreed, saying it was better if more people were working together to contain the blaze and finally subdue the embers.
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