BEHIND THE LINES: Fire alarm PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 March 2015 13:37



San Jose, CA. — Last year, a devastating wildfire raged near Yosemite National Park in Northern California. The state government said that brush fires happen every summer, “but the blazes have become larger and more frequent as the state endures a record-breaking drought.”

“Beware the ides of March”. It is Fire Prevention Month and it seems that the deadliest fires occur this time of the year. We’ve not been able to prevent conflagrations for some odd, phenomenal reasons.

As reported, 50 hectares of farmlands in Vitali planted to fruit-bearing trees and rubber trees got flamed up. Fires also destroyed 400 hectares of agricultural lands planted to coconuts and fruit trees in Mangusu and Tigbalabag. Fourteen coconut kilns were also destroyed by fires. At the same time, houses in Lunzuran, Guisao, Cabaluay and Sangali were completely razed to the ground. There were 29 grass and bush fires recorded from January 1 to March 22. On March 21 alone, fires occurred in Culianan, Pasonanca, Tumaga and Tigbalabag. OMG!

Add these to the stats: The city agriculturist office reported that 8,469.2 hectares of farmlands have been ruined as of May last year with an estimated loss to crops amounting to P91.8 million. Of this, 277 hectares were rice fields, 31 has. corn fields, 8,084.1 has. planted to bananas, 74.5 has. planted to assorted vegetables and 9.3 has. planted to cassava were also ravaged.

Assistant City Administrator Elmer Apolinario, officer-in-charge of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, has sounded the alarm and called on the people to be vigilant against the outbreak of fires. We simply don’t have enough water to put them out.

Two weeks ago, Water District General Manager Chito Vasquez appealed to the public to save water because there’s no telling when the dry spell will end. Potable or not, we need water to put out fires. Years back, during a press conference called by then ZCWD Chairman Edwin Makasiar, I shot a question about the security at the watershed, our rain forest, where probably century-old hardwood and rare wildlife are found, not to mention the colorful, distinct birds hardly ever seen. What if some nut (terrorist?) lights up a match and torches the forest, do we have enough security personnel and safeguards to battle the horrifying fire that may well approximate the wildfires at Yosemite? “We are working towards that end,” was the answer I got.

Well, Mr. Vasquez, I pose the same question. The Pasonanca forest cover is probably the only existing one in  Mindanao, maybe Asia. I’m just guessing. We have successfully prevented illegal cutters from invading our forest. Let’s keep it that way. But against determined arsonists, what measures do we have to stop them and their deadly intentions?

“Beware the fires of March”.