Benguet forest fires cast gloomy shadow over popular Atok flower farm

Mia Magdalena Fokno

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Benguet forest fires cast gloomy shadow over popular Atok flower farm

FIRE. Fire ravages an area in a mountain in Benguet as shown in this photo taken from Northern Blossoms Flower Farm in Atok, Benguet.

Northern Blossom Flower Farm

(1st UPDATE) Northern Blossom Flower Farm advises potential visitors to reconsider their plans as the area is 'now covered in smog'

BENGUET, Philippines – A popular flower farm and tourist destination in Atok, Benguet, is now enveloped in smog, casting a gloomy shadow over what is typically a picturesque landscape. 

A series of forest fires raging across parts of the Cordillera Administrative Region has led to significant smog coverage over Atok, Benguet, particularly affecting Northern Blossom Flower Farm, a popular tourist destination known for its breathtaking views and vibrant flora.

The flower farm’s management has issued a statement urging potential visitors to reconsider their plans, highlighting the risks particularly to individuals with respiratory conditions such as asthma.

“Due to the ongoing forest fire near our area, Northern Blossom Flower Farm is now covered in smog. Smoke from the fire is covering our area. Please plan your visit accordingly,” the statement read, emphasizing the health advisory and apologizing for the inconvenience caused.

Plant, Vegetation, Grass
SMOG. Smoke can be seen in the background at Northern Blossoms Flower Farm in Atok, Benguet. Photo used with permission from Northern Blossom Flower Farm

This environmental crisis has been attributed to at least seven forest fires reported in the towns of Benguet, Tuba, Itogon, Kabayan, and Bokod. The Regional Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has been actively monitoring and combating these fires, with a particular focus on the areas close to Kabayan and communication towers.

“The forest fires are still ongoing, although under control in areas near Kabayan and the towers,” said BFP Tuba Fire Marshall Fire Senior Inspector Meson Asing Jr.

Acting Kabayan town police chief Captain Davy Alilies said that the smog in Atok “is a direct result of a forest fire that originated in the neighboring municipality of Kabayan.”

“The fire started in the morning of February 24th at Sitio Otbong, Anchukey, Kabayan, and has since spread, affecting parts of Barangay Kabayan Barrio, particularly Sitio Eyabat and Kechep. Despite the spread, efforts to contain the fire have been partly successful, with significant control over the blaze in parts of Sitio Mamoyod,” he said.

Alilies added that the fire remained strong in Sitio Anchokoy, and Barangay Batan. “These areas have experienced the most intense portion of the fire,” he said.

Alilies noted that to date, there had been no reports of damage to private property or casualties in relation to the fire.

The situation is being closely monitored, and efforts to fully extinguish the fire are ongoing, he said, adding that the police, along with fire services and local government units, are working diligently to manage the situation and minimize its impact on the public and the environment.

Statistics provided by the BFP-Cordillera Administrative Region highlight the severity of the situation, with more than 60 forest fires recorded in the region since the start of the year. –

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