DAVAO CITY – An Army official reported on Monday, March 28 that the large portion of the fire in the country’s highest peak is located within the side of North Cotabato.
Major Ezra Balagtey, Officer in Charge of the Public Information Office of the Eastern Mindanao Command said in an email to the members of the press that “initially large portion of the fire is within the side of North Cotabato.”
“At 10:00 AM today one CeSna from Aero Scout Company, Light Armor Division of Phil Army together with personnel from Davao Del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) conducted Rapid Damage Need Assessment in the reported bush-fire in Mt Apo,” said Balagtey.
Balagtey added that at 5:00 pm today, March 28 from the PDRRMC in North Cotabato, “fireline was established as means of controlling the fire.”
“As of same time large portion of fire is now within the side of Talomo Mountain Range and Davao Sur area,” he said.
The Army spokesman also reported that at about 2:35 pm a Huey rescue helicopter from central command, Cebu City arrived at Tactical Operations Group 11 and conducted reconnaissance “for the possible conduct of (helicopter) bucket.”
“At 6:00 PM today joint PDRRMC meeting of North Cotabato and Davao Del Sur will be held in the Incident Command Post of PDRRMC-North Cotabato in Lake Agco, Illumavis, Kidapawan City, North Cotabato,” he said.
In a Philippine Information Agency dispatch, DENR XI Park Operation Superintendent Edward Ragaza said the fire started at 1:00 p.m. Saturday “near the peak then spread towards downhill”.
He said “the ember blown away by strong wind at the peak could also spark another fire and affect more areas.”
The grass fire has now affected more or less 100 hectares in Davao del Sur side since Saturday (March 26).
Ragaza said Mt. Apo is already off limits to trekkers from all access routes while the 200 trekkers, who went to Mt. Apo through the Kapatagan trail during the Holy Week is now out out of danger.
“150 of them are already moving home and 50 are out of the danger zone but are also heading from Camp 1 Paradise to Baras Station in Poblacion Kapatagan,” said Ragaza.
Government agencies including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Davao del Sur Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, North Cotabato Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the Philippine Air Force and the Bureau of Fire Protection from Regions XI and XII have combined to control the fire in Mt. Apo.
The Davao City Central 911 has also been ordered by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to help put out the fire. (davaotoday.com)