Tourism stakeholders, local officials and government agencies have established a “fire line” in Mt. Apo to stop the spread of the grass fire which now affected more or less 100 hectares in Davao del Sur side since Saturday (March 26).
Based from initial reports, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XI Park Operation Superintendent Edward Ragaza said the fire started of still undetermined cause at 1:00 p.m. Saturday near the peak then spread towards downhill. He was also concerned that the ember blown away by strong wind at the peak could also spark another fire and affect more areas.
In coordination with LGUs, IP communities and the Eco-Tourism Council, Ragaza said they are now establishing fire line to prevent the fire from spreading to other areas. He said Mt. Apo is already off limits to trekkers from all access routes.
He also allayed fears of the 200 trekkers, who went to Mt. Apo through the Kapatagan trail for the Holy Week, saying, “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.”
According to Ragaza, they are now ongoing efforts to suppress the fire and more people from the fire volunteers, tourism and environment stakeholders, local government units are doing everything to control the fire. He said DENR will send more of their Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers to assist.
“We are doing everything,” Ragaza said. He said the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) which operates the Mt. Apo Geothermal Plant is also helping to prevent the spread the damage.
Mt. Apo can be accessed through the following trails: Kapatagan in Digos City; New Israel in Makilala; Balutakay in Bansalan; Agco in Kidapawan; Bongolanon in Magpet; and Baruring in St. Cruz.
"For now climbers won't be allowed at Mt. Apo on all fronts kay delikado pa (it is still dangerous)," Ragaza said. (PNA)