Officials warn of heightened dry spell risks as fire ravages Quezon grassland

Darcie de Galicia

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Officials warn of heightened dry spell risks as fire ravages Quezon grassland

FIRE. A grass fire lights up mountainous terrain of Cangmatang on Sunday night, February 25, as viewed from Barangay F. Nandiego in Mulanay, Quezon province.

Darcie de Galicia/Rappler

The warning follows a fire that quickly spread and destroyed a grassland used for animal pasture in Mulanay town

QUEZON, Philippines – Disaster risk reduction and management officials in Quezon province cautioned on Monday, February 26, about an increased risk of grass and forest fires due to dry weather conditions exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon.

The warning followed a fire that quickly spread and destroyed a grassland used for animal pasture on the eastern slope of Sitio Cangmatang in the village of F. Nandiego, located 30 kilometers away from the Mulanay town center on Sunday night, February 25.

Oliver Olivo, the community environment and natural resources officer, said approximately 30 hectares of cogon grass were burned atop Cangmatang.

DESTROY. A grass fire destroys a grassland in Barangay F. Nandiego in Mulanay, Quezon province on Sunday night, FeBruary 25, 2024. Darcie de Galicia/Rappler

Local officials were assessing the impact of the grassfire on plant and tree species in the town.

Mulanay town information officer Gelo Amisola said the grassland served as a grazing area for local livestock and where farmers raise animals like goats, cows, and carabaos.

The fire came as the town government intensified a public awareness campaign on fire safety to assist village officials and farmers in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of the El Niño-induced dry spell.

Firefighters encountered difficulties battling the Sunday night fire due to the rugged terrain, according to Senior Fire Officer 1 Ewin Riego of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

“The fire broke out on a mountain slope, nearly 10 kilometers away from the barangay road, making it inaccessible for our fire trucks,” Riego told Rappler.

Fire Inspector Ariel Guerrero of the Mulanay Fire Department said the fire originated on the eastern slope of Mount Cancalao in Mulanay town, Quezon province, and continued to spread for four hours before being extinguished around 11:30 pm.

The BFP said an investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the grass fire.

Mulanay’s Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) said there were no injuries and no animals were harmed or missing. Local officials also said houses were unaffected by the bushfire.

Amisola stressed that while a reforestation program was started by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local government, grass fires have become an annual occurrence in the area, particularly towards the end of the northeast monsoon season. – Rappler.com

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