Nature helping douse Apo fire
DIGOS CITY—Mother Nature came to the rescue of Mount Apo late Friday by dousing fire-hit areas in the country’s highest peak with moderate rainfall, officials said on Saturday.
While the volume of rain needed to fully quell the fire, which started on March 26, was at least 30 millimeters, Jean Galicia, weather forecaster at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in Southern Mindanao, said Friday’s rainfall, at 8.6 mm, nevertheless helped slow down the combustion.
“This is not a result of cloud-seeding operations. It’s natural rain. It also rained in some sections of Kidapawan City, Davao City and Davao del Sur province,” she said.
Harry Camoro, spokesperson for the Incident Management Team on the Mt. Apo fire, said the rain had lessened the threat of the spread of the fire, particularly in areas outside the fire lines.
“Even if the fire heads were persisting, the risk is now minimal,” Camoro said.
He said the deliberate burning of grasses at the end of fire lines on Friday helped in lessening the risk of the spread of the blaze because there were now fewer dry materials for the fire heads to consume.
Camoro said efforts had been focused on preventing the fire from starting in other areas, especially now that one of the helicopters used in fire-fighting operations had been grounded for maintenance.
Two other choppers continue to douse fire heads and more areas with crushed ice and gelatin, he said.
This year’s fire on Mt. Apo was described as among the worst incidents to have hit the mountain in years.
In T’boli town in South Cotabato province, authorities also restricted access to Lake Holon, one of the popular local tourist destinations, after two major forest fires occurred there recently.
The lake became the second destination in South Cotabato to have been shut down to tourism activities, after Mount Matutum, due to grass or forest fires.
T’boli Mayor Dibu Tuan said about 10 hectares of forests near the lake’s main outlet were damaged by fire.
The fire broke out last week, barely a month after the 304-ha Lake Holon was reopened to visitors. The closure, from Jan. 11 to March 5, was ordered to allow the lake and its surrounding area to “recuperate” after hosting more than 700 visitors during the Christmas season.
Milagros Lorca, head of the South Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the Mt. Matutum fire had been stopped.
“The situation on both sites are now under control, and clearing operations are ongoing to prevent possible breakouts in the coming days,” Lorca said.
The first major fire on Matutum broke out on March 23. It was followed by another fire on April 2 that gobbled up 90 ha of grass and forest lands.
At least 5 ha more were damaged in a subsequent fire. Reports from Orlando Dinoy and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao
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