4 fires wipe out acres of vegetation


Members of a Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services team walk past acres of vegetation that were wiped out by brush fire that occurred in San Juan, Marpi over the weekend. (DFEMS)

Three brush fires in different spots occurred on Saipan over the weekend, destroying acres of vegetation, while another brush fire broke on Rota yesterday. No one was reported injured in all four fires.

On Saipan, a brush fire that occurred north of Wireless Ridge on Capital Hill last Friday night broke into two separate fires as it moved toward San Juan in Marpi. Another brush fire also struck in Chinatown on Saturday afternoon but was immediately extinguished.

On Rota, brush fire wiped out vegetation in the Mua area yesterday. Rota Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services advised the public to refrain from burning anything during outdoor activities due to high winds that could spread the flames.

Last Thursday, the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Guam issued a notice that the drought period in the NMI is expected to worsen in the next couple of weeks.

Following the issuance of the notice and with the expectation of moderate to occasionally strong trade winds over most of Micronesia in the next couple of months, the Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management is advising CNMI residents to refrain from outdoor burning activities to avoid wildfires and endanger surrounding life and property.

DFEMS spokesperson Derek Gersonde on Friday said the big fire, which moved east and south toward the Talafofo area, has become aggressive and has burned live brush and trees in its path.

Gersonde said the second fire, which was small, continued to move north toward San Juan.

One DFEMS team was fielded at the Department of Public Safety Target Range in San Juan, while another team was stationed at the northern end of Wireless Ridge. The third team was assigned in Talafofo near the Kingfisher Golf Links.

DFEMS monitored the two fires throughout Friday night for any erratic behavior that might endanger residential areas and farms.

On Saturday, DFEMS reported that the San Juan fire had slowed down as of 6pm, while the Talafofo/Wireless Ridge fire had smoked out.

Gersonde said DFEMS assigned a team in San Juan and another team at Wireless Ridge Saturday night to monitor for any flareups.

In the Chinatown blaze, Gersonde said the fire occurred above the Man’Amko Center, but was extinguished at 5pm Saturday.

While some showers have fallen recently, dryer weather is expected to develop in the next few weeks.

Last Tuesday midnight a fire engulfed a two-story house in Chalan Kanoa as the brush fire that broke out a day before (Monday) was still spreading at Wireless Ridge that day (Tuesday).

Last March 12, three grass fires destroyed a total of over an acre of vegetation near Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School in San Roque and at the Tanapag Cemetery.

A brush fire swept 4.5 acres of vegetation in Papago last March 7.

Two weeks from Papago fire, multiple brush fires occurred on Tinian and Rota.

Gersonde reminded the public that the best way to battle grass fires is to prevent it from ever starting.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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