THE Mount Pulag Park Management announced that hiking and trekking activities in Mount Pulag are temporarily suspended due to forest fire last Saturday on the slopes of the Mount Pulag National Park in Kabayan, Benguet.
Park attendant Daisy Moresto said the forest fire was sparked on Saturday afternoon, January 22, from a butane stove that exploded which affected camp site and peaks along the grassland areas.
After the explosion, the campers from Tawangan in Kabayan, panicked and ran to safety. The Bureau of Fire Protection later declared a fire out later in the evening and reported no casualties nor injuries.
The following day, superintendents, park rangers and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office conducted a survey and geotagging to assess overall damages the forest fire brought to the mountain.
Moresto said "After the assessment if there are few remaining we can (resume), but as of now it is definitely closed. Kasi wala talaga, maitim iyong grassland wala silang makikita."
At present, hiking and trekking activities on Mount Pulag have been temporarily suspended of which hikers and visitors who will be coming on the next days will be restricted to enter the park but will be referred to Four lakes, one of the tourist attraction in Kabayan.
Moresto said the camp II area was saved while camp III was severely affected which includes the most visited summit of the national park.
Modesto said forest fires also occurred in 1998 and 2003 with 50 percent of the grasslands damaged.
The Mount Pulag dubbed as the “Playground of the Gods” believed to be the final resting place among the Ibaloi folks and one of the few tribal groups that inhabit the forest reserve located 2,922 meters above sea level and the third highest mountain in the country with an estimated 300 to 400 hikers daily.
Mt. Pulag, the highest peak in Benguet Province, and is a favorite trek for climbers who want experience the sunrise at its peak, which has also brought problems in its carrying capacity with the deluge of trekkers.
The surrounding areas in the Pulag reservation are also in the verge of being encroached with gardens setup by local farmers.