An alarming 90 incidents of forest fires were recorded in Cordillera, Philippines during the first three months of 2019, up from 87 in the same period last year.
According to data provided by the Bureau of Fire Prevention in Cordillera, the fires scorched 140 000 hectares (346 000 acres) of forest in different provinces in the highland Cordillera.
Around 151 forest fires that affected over 20 880 hectares (51 595 acres) were reported in 2018, up from 64 forest fires in 2017 that damaged more than 13 509 hectares (33 381 acres).
In 2016, BFP-CAR recorded 178 forest fire incidents that damaged over 6 100 (15 073 miles) hectares of forest reservations, the bureau reports.
"We do not want more fires but we have to brace ourselves and prepare, because we have had no rain this year," Senior Superintendent Maria Sofia Mendoza of BFP-Cordillera said at the start of March.
Mendoza said the BFP lacks equipment and personnel to fight forest fires. However, she expects that recently created task force against environmental crimes will provide reinforcement.
People living in communities near forests or within watersheds are urged to be extra careful in the disposal of items like lit cigarettes that could trigger fires that pose a serious threat to the region’s environment.
Open burning, lighted cigarettes and unattended fires have been a major cause of fires in recent years, Mendoza said.
Featured image credit: Bureau of Fire Protection