Officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) mull the temporary closure of Mt. Apo as fire continues to spread on other parts of the highest peak in the country.
DENR Secretary Ramon Paje has already instructed its local arm to work closely with local government units to discuss the temporary closure of Mt. Apo. The local government officials in turn have expressed support towards the proposal for a temporary closure of Mt. Apo to trekkers and other tourists over a period of at least three years, due to the extent of damage caused by the fire. The temporary closure is expected to give ample time for the forest to heal and recover.
The fire, which started Saturday (March 26) near the peak of the mountain in the Davao del Sur province’s side, has already damaged about 40 hectares of forests and grass especially in the Southeast portion of Mt. Apo’s peak. It continues to rage even though portions have already been contained. The fire on the North Cotabato side was reportedly put under control Tuesday (March 29).
DENR is using geographical position system and control maps to help volunteers identify the locations of the fire. The officials are just hoping that there would be no strong winds for the fire not to spread to other areas.
There were no reported injuries as hundreds have already fled by foot, including trekkers and tourists who went to the mountain during the Holy Week.
Government officials and volunteers are monitoring the situation from a Command Post in Kidapawan City. Tourism Officer Joey Recimilla said that volunteers will stay put until the fire is out.
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