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Monday, June 17, 2024

Laoag vice mayor urges public to prevent forest fire

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Laoag City Vice Mayor Rey Carlos Fariñas on Monday called on the public to help prevent grassfires during this dry and windy season.

Fariñas, founder of the Fariñas Fire and Rescue Volunteers in Laoag, made the call after he and his team responded to a grass fire in Barangay 33B, La Paz, Laoag City within the La Paz dunes, a popular tourist destination for 4×4 rides and sand boarding in Ilocos Norte province.

He said the grass fire was caused by some drunken men who lit fireworks near the 4×4 view deck as evidenced by a recovered empty fireworks box and lighter.

Fire authorities said the blaze was put out immediately with the help of the village’s firefighting brigade and the operators of 4×4, who used big drums filled with water from the firetruck and transported them using the 4×4 vehicle because the fire truck could not go near the grassfire area.

“Let us be vigilant to prevent forest fire[s] that could risk the lives and properties of our constituents,” Fariñas said, noting that the incident happened near residential properties.

Authorities have been raising alarm over the rising incidents of forest and grass fires in Ilocos Norte, with 23 recorded incidents from February to March 6, 2023 alone, which tore through the city of Batac and the towns of Vintar, Sarrat, Currimao, Marcos, Banna, Piddig, Paoay, Solsona, and Nueva Era.

Marcel Tabije, head of the provincial resiliency office, said most of the wildfires reported during the period were due to human activities that involved “burning of agricultural farm wastes and throwing of cigarette butts in grassy areas.”

“We urge the public to be vigilant and report it immediately to the Bureau of Fire Protection if you happen to see a grassfire incident,” he said.

Aside from limited manpower, officials of the Bureau of Fire Projection (BFP) here said they currently lack forest fire fighting equipment and a jet shooter backpack.

The BFP has been recommending to local authorities the installation of radio towers in isolated areas to ensure quick response in case of wildfires.

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