Air Force steps up Apo bucket drops

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THE Philippine Air Force has intensified aerial firefighting operations on Mount Apo as the blaze continues to raze parts of its slopes, the Air Force spokesman said on Sunday.

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According to Col. Araus Robert Musico, Air Force helicopters have been assisting disaster mitigation teams to contain the fire since it started on March 26 but the firefighting operations were increased as more than 300 hectares of forest and grassland have already been destroyed.

“It’s an ongoing operation. The Air Force has been sending Super Huey to carry water and help douse the fire,” Musico said.

He was referring to helicopters equipped with the so-called Bambi Bucket, which he said had been busy in its operations. For the past five days of operations, Musico said the helicopters have made at least 50 bucket drops and still counting.

Besides water, the Air Force is also dropping crushed ice on the affected area. The crushed ice, he said, were donated by volunteer groups.

Besides the Super Huey, Musico disclosed that some UH-1D helicopters are also being used to ferry supplies and logistics to the responders on the site.

“So ang air force is committing additional Huey as soon as they become available. We might be redeploying some aircrafts towards the area to contribute to the firefighting effort in Mount Apo,” he added.

As of Sunday, the Air Force was scheduled to send two more helicopters to assist in the firefighting operations and resupply missions to disaster teams.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has deployed at least 40 technical personnel to assist in containing the forest fire which started Saturday last week.

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