Baguio, Benguet forest fires worsened by strong winds

By: Kimberlie Quitasol – Correspondent / @kquitasolINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:08 AM February 22, 2024

MOUNTAIN BURNING The dry condition in the Cordillera region has contributed to forest fires that have so far hit more than 200 hectares in Mountain Province and Benguet since last

BAGUIO CITY—Forest fires continued to spread across different areas in this city and nearby Tuba town in Benguet province on Wednesday, threatening residential areas as firefighters struggled to extinguish the flames due to strong winds.

According to the Baguio City Fire Station, a forest fire broke out near an army detachment of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) compound and razed a portion of the nearby mountain in Barangay Loakan.

The fire that hit parts of the mountain terrain beside the PMA area began on Tuesday and was still raging as of Wednesday morning, affecting about 20 hectares.

PMA officials were on alert as to the possibility of the fire reaching the military school’s premises, the Inquirer learned.

Although there were no reported injuries, fire investigators warned residents near the area of the potential danger to properties and lives.

Firefighters from the PMA Fire Station, the nearby Camp John Hay Fire Department and Sunshine Fire Volunteers helped put out the fire.

Residential area
Another incident of forest fire engulfed Mt. Sto. Tomas Forest Reserve in Tuba, sparking concern among residents as the flames were seen approaching their homes in the villages of Camp 4 and Camp 6 on Wednesday.

Firefighters from Baguio and Tuba responded to put out the blaze but authorities have yet to determine if the fire could be immediately contained, citing the possibility of reigniting.

Investigators said they were still trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Residents reported that the intense fire resulted in a widespread layer of ash fallout and a thick haze covering Tuba and this city.

On Feb. 8, a forest fire, lasting for more than 24 hours, also struck Mt. Sto. Tomas within Sitio Cabuyao.

Since last month, more than 200 ha of forested areas in the Cordillera region have been destroyed by fires, data from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in the Cordillera showed.

The BFP also reported at least 13 incidents of forest and grass fires in Mountain Province and in Benguet’s mining town of Itogon since January.

Firefighters have been employing both aerial and ground-based “suppression strategies” to prevent the flames from spreading and causing massive damage.


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