Lanao Sur bushfires fizzle out PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 January 2016 14:07

The bushfire that hit vast swaths of lands at the tri-boundary of Mindanao’s adjoining Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces had fizzled out, officials said on Saturday.

“There is no more threat it would spread to watershed areas in Butig (in Lanao del Sur) but we are not taking chances still,” said Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Lucman led a team of soldiers, foresters, government engineers and local officials dispatched Friday by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman to investigate on the conflagration.

Lucman said he had reported to Hataman that the fire in a hinterland in Butig town started in very wide open fields covered by thick, dry Cogon grasses ((Imperata Cylindrica), scorched by the drought that started last month.

“It was more of a grassfire. A very big grassfire, already so close to watershed forests from where springs big rivers flowing down to Muslim villages,” Lucman said.

Lucman said he is thankful to ARMM environment secretary Hadji Kahal Kedtag, Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Jr. and the Bureau of Fire Protection for helping organize the team that conducted an on-sight probe on the incident.

“Credit also has to go to peace activists and environmentalists in Lanao del Sur and to the HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team) of the ARMM government,” Lucman said.

ARMM’s regional fire marshal, Adam Guiamad, said they will embark on massive information campaign on how to preclude conflagrations in protected timberlands and in grasslands, now threatened due to the continuing drought since last month.

Residents of Marawi City and towns along the Lake Lanao panicked Thursday night after they noticed the fire illuminating the mountain ranges hit by the conflagration, first noticed at dusk that day.

“That was the first ever in the history of the Maranaw homeland,” said peace activist Drieza Abato Lininding, an ethnic Maranaw involved in programs supporting the Mindanao peace process.

Lininding said the incident was a reminder for local government units, environmentalists, and government agencies to help each other protect the forested areas in Lanao del Sur, from where springs dozens of rivers flowing downstream to Lake Lanao.

The water from Lake Lanao flow downstream Lanao del Norte and Iligan City, both under Administrative Region 10, via waterways that propel state-owned hydroelectric plants supplying about three-fourths of Mindanao’s daily power needs. — JFU