Jul 9, 2020

Grass fire burns hectares of cogon land in El Nido

Firefighters belonging to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in El Nido, Joint Task Force Malampaya, and Emergency Response Team of Miniloc Island Resort battle to put out the grass fire that erupted in an 8-hectare cogon area in Barangay Villa Libertad, El Nido on February 1, 2020. (Jay Abid Macan)

A grass fire burned some eight hectares of property near the old airport terminal in Barangay Villa Libertad, Saturday morning.

The fire that lasted about three hours burned through a cogon area within the property of a tourism real estate company.

Fire Officer Jovert Gande said the fire at Sitio Bancalan, Villa Libertad was reported to them around 9:25 a.m. from the property of Oak Drive Capital, Inc. It was declared “fire out” at 12 p.m. by the emergency response team (ERT) of Miniloc Island Resort.

Based on their initial investigation, the grass fire that burned some eight hectares of cogon area happened due to the backyard burning of trash and other waste materials.

“Fault din po ‘yon ng security guard. May naggawa ng bonfire, admitted naman ‘yong guard doon… araw-araw niyang ginagawa ay mag-linis ng basura tapos susunugin. Siguro hindi niya napatay lahat, baka may naiwan na baga then malakas ‘yong hangin, nakita na lang niya bigla na lang umapoy ‘yong makapal na cogon malapit doon sa pinagsindihan niya. ‘Yon ang angulo na tinitingnan natin ngayon na posibleng dahilan ng sunog, although admitted naman ng guard,” Gande said.

A volunteer firefighter hurries to put out the fire creeping through a grassy area in Brgy. Villa Libertad. (Photo courtesy of JTF Malampaya)

“Ang hirap makapasok doon. Iniuwi na lang namin ‘yong firetruck, sinundo na lang kami noong Ayala at ginamit na lang namin ‘yong speedboat. Sila rin ‘yong nakapatay kasi nga ginamit nila ‘yong portable fire pump na galing ng Miniloc. ‘Yon po ‘yong malaking tulong,” he added.

Jay Abid Macan of the Miniloc Island Resort ERT said their team brought a speedboat with a portable fire pump to put out the grass fire which was around 500 meters away from the old airport terminal.

He said the Joint Task Force Malampaya (JTFM) assisted in putting out the fire where it started. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in the town responded, but firetrucks cannot enter the incident site because it has no access road.

“The Emergency Response Team of Miniloc Island Resort arrived at the location of the [grass] fire at 10:50 a.m. and immediately activated the portable fire pump from the speed boat and started firefighting. Sobrang laki ng apoy kaya umabot ng 11:55 a.m. bago ito na-control at tuluyang nadeklarang fire out,” he said.

“Si JTFM ang umapula sa may pinagmulan banda ng sunog malapit sa lumang terminal ng airport. Pero ang apoy ay mabilis na kumalat hanggang umabot ng humigit kumulang isang kilometro ang layo na kung saan ay wala ng ibang taong pumunta doon at umapula kundi ang team namin,” Macan added.

Capt. Donn Anthony Miraflor, commander of task force Malampaya, said it was an Airswift personnel who informed them about the grass fire, requesting for help stop.

He said it was difficult because no vehicle could enter the area. Their team had to use pails to get water from the nearby beach.

“Grass fire siya, pero napuntahan agad after manghingi ng support ‘yong tower kasi sa likod niya. Medyo palawak na kaya nagpadala tayo ng team natin para tumulong,” Miraflor said. (with reports from Bella Mutia)

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