Philippines — AT LEAST 40 hectares of farmland mostly planted to coconuts with an estimated value of almost P2 million were destroyed in a bushfire in Zamboanga City, the police reported Friday.
The incident came few days after Superintendent Dominador Zabala Jr., Zamboanga City Fire District (ZCFD) chief, warned against indiscriminate burning of bonfires and dried bushes in the villages.
Senior Inspector Salvador Galvez, Police Station 1 chief, said the bushfire broke out around 11 a.m. Thursday at Sitio Gemelina in the village of Vitali, 83.99 kilometers east of the city.
Galvez said that prior to the incident, the residents in the area saw Crispin Omnos, 78, making a bonfire at his backyard. The bonfire suddenly gone out of control and spread toward the neighboring farmlands.
The destroyed farmlands were owned by Marcelino Cuartocruz, with P300,000 worth of damage; Joaquin Francisco, P300,000; and Chief Inspector Edilberto Alvarez, P1.2 million.
A house made of light materials and owned by Alvin Manue, a relative of Alvarez, was also burned down, according to Galvez. The fire destroyed an estimated P30,000 worth of properties.
Galvez said Omnos was brought to Police Station 1 to shed light over the incident.
Meanwhile, Zabala said that more than 20 bushfires were recorded and responded to by his personnel since January this year. The figure is higher this year compared to the same period last year, when only 18 bushfires were reported.
Zabala attributed the slight increase to the current dry spell the city is experiencing.
“We keep on reminding the people of this city to stop indiscriminate burning of bonfires and dried bushes to prevent fire incidents that may affect the lives and properties in their areas,” Zabala said.