Fire continues in Mt. Apo, closed indefinitely to trekkers

The Mount Apo fire continues to destroy precious hectares of grasslands and forested areas,  despite concerted government efforts to stop it.

The fire started on March 26 in Mt. Apo and has not been quelled yet. It was earlier estimated that the grassfires will last from five to 10 days. The cause has not been determined yet but some are saying it was because of El Niño.

(Image Credit: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ)

So far, 400 hectares of grassland and forested areas in Mt. Apo had been destroyed. But this would most likely increase since the fire is still ongoing.

As a safety measure and to prevent further damage, Mt. Apo Natural Park had been closed indefinitely to trekkers, upon orders of its Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

The Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Officer (PRRMO) of Davao del Sur, Harry Camoro, have informed CNN Philippines that two choppers are now being used to try to stop the fire.

According to Manila Bulletin, there are more than 300 volunteers and personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BOF), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Air Force (PAF) and local governments who are fighting against the raging fire in Mt. Apo.

Mt. Apo is located in Davao del Sur and North Cotabato. It has a total of around 55000 hectares aside from its peripheral areas and buffer zones which cover an area of more than 22000  hectares.

Even if the forest fire area may seem small compared to the total hectarage of Mt. Apo, the ecological damage is a cause for worry. Aside from its  invaluable forest area, Mt. Apo is also one of the few sanctuaries for the country's national bird, the endangered Philippine Eagle.

Sadly, two incidents of grass and forest fires had also occured in Mt. Matutum at South Cotabato on March 23 and March 27, destroying a total of more than 10 hectares. Mt. Matutum is now also closed indefinitely to trekkers.

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