140,000 hectares ravaged by forest fires in Cordillera

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BAGUIO CITY  – Over 140,000 hectares of forests in the different parts of the Cordillera were ravaged by some 60 forest fires that happened during the first 2 months of this year raising alarm among local officials and fire officers on the possibility of more damages that will be inflicted by fires to various watersheds regionwide, especially with the prevalence of the El Niño phenomenon.

Fire Senior Superintendent Ma. Sofia Mendoza, regional director of the Cordillera office of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP-CAR), said the huge number of fire incidents that transpired in the different parts of the region for the first two months of this year has resulted to the raising of the alert level among firefighters to be ready for the occurrence of more fire incidents considering the prevalence of the dry season wherein the possibility of the occurrence of fires is high.

“We call on our people living in communities near our forests or within watersheds in the region to be extra careful in the disposal of lighted items like cigarettes among others so that they will not trigger the occurrence of fires that pose a serious threat to the state of the region’s environment,” Mendoza stressed.

The BFP-CAR claimed there is a significant increase in the fire incidents that happened for the first two months of this year compared to the fires that were registered during the same period last year that is why it is important for concerned government agencies, local governments and the stakeholders to work together to suppress the occurrence of such damaging incidents that will surely affect the present condition of the watersheds, especially the newly planted trees.

In 2016, BFP-CAR was able to record some 178 forest fire incidents that damaged over 6,100 hectares of forest reservations before it plunged to 64 forest fires in 2017 inflicting damage to over 13,509 hectares of watersheds.

Last year, the agency documented some 151 forest fires that affected over 20,880 hectares of forests while for the first two months of this year, there were already 60 forest fire incidents that ravaged over 140,000 hectares of forests regionwide.

Mendoza explained that the common causes of the occurrence of forest fires in the region over the past several years included open burning, lighted cigarettes and the unattended lighted materials that often spread due to the presence of dried materials within the vicinity of the fire incidents.

She added the BFP-CAR continues to intensify its information and education campaign to make the people internalize the need to value the importance of preventing the occurrence of fires that will pose a serious threat to life and limb.

Aside from the significant increase in forest fire incidents, BFP also recorded varying data on structural fires wherein there were a total of 190 incidents in 2016 before slightly increasing to 193 incidents in 2017 and then dropped to 171 incidents last year. For the first two months of this year, there were already 26 structural fires that were documented regionwide.

Automobile fires were also erratic with 29, 17 and 27 incidents in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. By HENT

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