The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has deployed at least 40 technical personnel to assist in the containment of forest fire that erupted on Mt. Apo since Saturday.

As this developed, DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje directed DENR Region 11 Director Joselin Marcus E. Fragada to discuss with concerned local executives the plan to temporarily close the country’s highest peak to campers to prevent a repeat of the fire incident.

“Upon hearing about the incident, we lost no time mobilizing our personnel from our provincial and community environment and natural offices in Digos City to help prevent the spread of forest fire in nearby areas,” Paje said.

The environment chief said that the DENR regional office in Davao City has been providing equipment and technical support to composite teams of concerned local government units, the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) that were tasked with suppressing the wildfire.

“Each of the seven composite teams now up in Mt. Apo has DENR personnel providing technical assistance, particularly in the use of geographical position system or GPS and control maps, including the establishment of fire lines to prevent the fire from further spreading,” Paje said.

A fire line is a gap in vegetation or other combustible materials that will act as barrier to slow down or stop the fire from spreading.

Paje also reported that a Super Huey chopper from the Philippine Air Force was deployed in the area on Tuesday morning to conduct water bucket operation.

“Water dropping commenced at 9 a.m. on Tuesday but ended at 11:30 a.m. due to poor visibility. A total of 10 buckets equivalent to 30 drums have been dropped,” he said.

The DENR chief noted that the risk of fire had increased as the long dry spell and high temperatures left large amounts of flammable debris in forest areas. #