FOREST FIRE IN BENGUET TOWN KILLS 5
BAGIO CITY -- A total of five persons died after a forest fire broke past noon Wednesday in a town in Benguet, an official said.
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan said the blaze at Barangay Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet happened a little past 12 p.m.
He said town police only informed him of the forest fire around 4 p.m.
Palangdan said responders and firefighters from Philex Mining Corporation, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the police immediately arrived at the area.
They also made fire breaks to prevent it from reaching Sitio Banawel, a residential area, the mayor said.
Palangdan said the identities of the victims, whose bodies were brought to the Philex Santo Niño hospital, have yet to be known.
"Nobody knows how they died, why they were because there are no houses there. It is plain mountain area without residents," he said.
In a text message, lawyer Ed Aratas, legal manager of Philex Mining Corporation-Benguet, said three of those who died are their forestry employees.
He, however, said with the bodies badly burned, they need to do further tests to identify who among the five are their workers.
Aratas added that firefighters and responders, who belong to the Incident Prevention and Investigation Committee (IPEC), are helping avoid the fire from spreading and reaching other facilities of the mining company.
The area destroyed by the fire is part of the forestry site of company, he said. (PNA)