GenSan residents warned on grass fires

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 10 April) – The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) cautioned residents against the possible occurrence of more grass fires and other related incidents in the area in the coming weeks due to the escalating summer heat or warm weather.

Fire Officer 3 Rey Allan Imperio, chief investigator of the BFP station here, said Thursday vast areas of idle and occupied grasslands in the city have so far turned dry and vulnerable to accidental fires as a result of the prevailing intense warm weather.

During the first quarter of the year, he said they already recorded a total of 86 grass fires within the city’s 26 barangays.

Imperio said 26 grass fires each occurred in January and February and 34 were recorded in March, which is coincidentally the Fire Prevention Month.

For the month of March, he said the 34 recorded grass fires, which were 26 cases less when compared to the same period last year, resulted to an estimated damage of P944,000 to affected crops and properties.

The affected areas were mostly grasslands situated in declared pasture lands in Barangays Tambler, Fatima, Apopong, Sinawal and San Jose.

Imperio said the number of grassfires in the first quarter of the year was 24 percent lower when compared to the 113 cases recorded last year.

The BFP had recorded a total of 209 grass fires in the area in 2013.

Imperio urged local residents to be extra cautious and vigilant, especially when throwing lit cigarettes and in clearing their lands by means of fire.

“In case you need to burn an area, make sure that the boundaries are properly set and standby water resources are available in case the fire escalates,” he said in a radio interview.

He said the burning areas should not be left unattended or without proper watchers to prevent the fire from escalating and reaching nearby places, especially the communities.

“Now that summer is here, our grounds are very much vulnerable to accidental fires so everyone should be careful about this,” he said.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) station here, the prevailing intense summer weather in the area is expected to worsen in the coming days and might last until next month.

Indal Bansuan, PAGASA weather observer, said the highest temperature in the area this year was recorded at 36 degrees Celsius and the trend showed an increasing warm weather since February.