This article was originally published in MindaNews on April 20, 2016.
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 Apr) – A team from Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) started on Wednesday morning the thermal scanning of the portion of Mt. Apo damaged by massive fire that lasted for more than two weeks since March 26 before it was put under control Thursday last week.
Speaking in Wednesday’s AFP-PNP press conference at the Task Force Davao headquarters, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 11 spokesperson Nestor Jimenez said that the thermal imaging is necessary to detect the location of any active fire.
He said the first day of the thermal scanning was done on foot since the helicopter of the Philippine Air Force could not fly above the damaged peak due to thick clouds since Monday.
Besides, Jimenez said, the damaged area is not so wide such that it is manageable to do the thermal imaging on foot. There are, however, some rough terrain that the teams found difficult to scale, he added.
Jimenez, who heads the Incident Management Team, is hoping that the assessment and ground verification teams will be able to complete their evaluation by Saturday and declare a fire out by Monday.
Last Friday, Project NOAH researcher Rodrigo Narod Eco said that the images taken by the thermal camera will be the basis for authorities to declare if the area is already clear of fire.
Aerial shots taken on April 7 and April 15 showed no signs of active fire, he said.
Jimenez said that no more fires have been observed so far since last week, although fire responders are still seeing minor smokes in some parts.
He said lumads residing at the foothills of Mt. Apo are assisting the responders in the fire suppression by covering the source of the smoke with soil to put out the fire.
After the massive fire incident, Jimenez said that they are planning to capacitate the communities, most especially the lumads, on fire suppression.