AFP deploys response unit vs Apo blaze

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The military deployed a company of soldiers to Mt. Apo in Davao yesterday to help firefighters and volunteers put out the forest fire that has been raging in the area for several days now.

Aside from ground deployment of troops, Lt. Gen. Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command, alerted response units of the Army, Air Force and the Navy for deployment to Mt. Apo.

“At around 2 a.m., 112 soldiers from the 10th Infantry Division arrived in Kapatagan, Davao del Sur and will be reporting to the Control Point (CP) for briefing and subsequent deployment,” Maj. Ezra Balagtey, Eastmincom spokesman said.

Balagtey added that a Super Huey helicopter again took off early yesterday morning from the Air Force Tactical Operations Group in Davao City for fire- suppression air operations. It dropped buckets of water on the burning slopes of Mt. Apo.

Another helicopter, he said, is being used to ferry additional fire volunteers as well as to conduct resupply and aerial assessment flights.

The Eastmincom has requested for more helicopters for its anti-fire operation as the blaze continues in a thickly forested area of the mountain. However, the request is still pending availability of the aircraft.

Balagtey said the Eastmincom is ready to commit more troops to the area to help contain the fire, which was reportedly caused hikers on the Kidapawan City trail to Mt. Apo. The fire has threatened the survival of the Philippine Eagle, which nests in the Philippines’ highest mountain.

Aside from the AFP, around 40 technical personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are now in the area. They have been working with personnel from other government agencies to prevent the fire from spreading.

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