An-eight day forest fire at Mount Pulag destroyed 191.54 hectares of land, covering approximately 160,547 trees and saplings, under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Expanded National Greening Program (ENGP).
Office of Civil Defense (OCD) – Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (DRRMC) Chairman Albert Mogol stated in a Philippine News Agency (PNA) report that the fire started on Tuesday, February 11, and was only contained the next Tuesday, February 18.
“The fire started in Sitio Bulok of Barangay Adaoay and eventually spread to Barangay Anchokey,” Mogol was quoted as saying in the report. However, initial reports of Kabayan firemen stated that the fire started in Sitios Sacob and Abat, still in Barangay Adaoay.
Furthermore, the DENR reported that the burned area has a vegetative cover which is mostly “grassland and pine forest located on mountainous terrain, mostly steep to very steep slopes coupled with high exposure, making it extremely fire hazard.”
It was documented in the report that the fire caused destruction worth approximately P1,670,455.
“Community livelihood activities are among the suspected causes of forest fires in the Province of Benguet,” the OCD stated.
It was also reported that “the forest fire was aggravated by the biophysical conditions of the area (terrains, heat exposure, wind, etc), forest fire management of concerned agencies, and the apparent indifference of the community people towards the prevention of forest fires.”
According to the investigation conducted by Adaoay Barangay Captain Roy Tomillas, “there was no definite perpetrator or perpetrators named.” It was also documented that investigations lead nowhere as there is a “lack of willing witnesses.”
Because of the incident, the Mount Pulag park management has closed the Akiki trail to climbers and trekkers.