May 23, 2024
AERIAL OPERATION — The Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council  through the Office of Civil Defense-CAR and Tactical Operations Group 1 of the Philippine Air Force has responded to forest fires in Benguet  through the conduct aerial assessments and heli buckets operations. — OCD-CAR photo

Simultaneous fires have occurred last week in the forests of the Cordillera damaging about 1,000 hectares of forestland, the Cordillera Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) said. 

In a meeting of the CDRRMO on Feb. 22, the Bureau of Fire Protection-Cordillera reported eight fires are still being suppressed with the aid of the Philippine Air Force, through its heli-bucket operations.

These fires occurred at sitios Tinongdan and Loacan in Itogon; Mt. Sto. Tomas, Tuba; Bobok-Bisal, Ambuklao, and Ekip in Bokod; and Eddet, Kabayan, all in Benguet and one in Mountain Province. 

The cause of these fires is under investigation, however, the dry spell brought about the El Niño is believed to be one of the reasons.

Kaingin and irresponsible disposal of cigarettes are also said to have started some fires.

Office of the Civil Defense-Cordillera Director and CDRRMO Chair Albert Mogol called for an emergency meeting on Feb. 22 with local DRRM officials and representatives from various government agencies to discuss measures to prevent forest fires in the Cordillera.

“Kailangan natin itong pagtulungan. Hindi ito kaya ng isang ahensya lang. Kailangan din ng partisipasyon ng publiko at ng apektadong mga komunidad,”Mogol said, as posted in the OCD-Cordillera’s social media page.

The thick smoke from these fires has reached nearby communities such as in Loakan and Camp 7 in Baguio.

The City Public Information Office has advised the public, especially those with respiratory ailments to wear facemasks to protect themselves from the fumes from the fires. – Rimaliza A. Opiña