Benguet forest fires raze area bigger than San Juan City

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La Trinidad, Benguet (CNN Philippines, February 27) — Forest fires in Benguet province which have been intermittently burning since January have razed an area bigger than San Juan City, environment officials said Wednesday.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Cordillera Administrative Region reported that 12 forest fires have burned an 889-hectare area and left ₱2.08-million in damage.

Kabayan town in Benguet sustained the bulk of the damage, with an eight-day blaze destroying nearly 644 hectares of pine forests and leaving ₱1.6-million in damage.

The Environment Department’s forest plantation composed of 191.54 hectares of buried samplings and 452.15 hectares of pine forest was among those hit by the fire that burned from February 11 to 18.

Kabayan town reported Sunday another forest fire in Barangay Eddet.

Meanwhile, another fire in Barangay Ambasador in Tublay town razed a 95-hectare area.

These figures still do not account for fires still being extinguished in Barangay Daclan in Bokod town and in Barangay Dalupirip in Itogon town.

Edgardo Flor, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Benguet, said the steep slopes of the province and lack of roads make firefighting difficult.

Mount Pulag, a portion of which is located in the town of Kabayan, has been closed to the public due to the fires.

Benguet-based stringer Lauren Anuma contributed to this report.