By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

GUTTED. Fire volunteers help put out the fire at a residential area in Barangay Damayang Lagi in Quezon City in this March 19, 2024 photo. The BFP on Wednesday (April 3, 2024) said a total of 5,764 fire incidents were recorded from Jan. 1 to April 2 this year, an uptick from 4,477 incidents logged in the same period last year. (PNA file photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – The first three months of 2024 saw an uptick in the number of fire incidents in the country, as well as the number of casualties and the amount of property damage, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said.

In a phone interview Wednesday, BFP spokesperson Annalee Atienza said a total of 5,764 fire incidents were logged from Jan. 1 to April 2 this year which killed 120 civilians, injured 352 others, and left PHP2.74 billion worth of damage to property.

These figures show a significant increase from 4,477 incidents, 79 fatalities, 318 injured persons, and PHP2.37 billion worth of damage recorded in the same period last year, she added.

The BFP also said 35 personnel were injured while responding to fire incidents this year, from just 14 last year.

Data from the BFP showed the leading causes of these fires were open flame from rubbish fire/bonfire to structural fire, smoking or lighted cigarettes, and open flame from farmland.

“We are not praying for it (to increase). What we want is lower fire incidents and our agency has adopted innovations and programs. We’re going down to the community because many of these incidents occurred in residential areas. We really need to emphasize the education of the community,” Atienza said.

Atienza added sweltering temperatures in the country have also contributed to the rise in fires.

She said they have recorded cases of chemical combustion due to extreme heat or without interaction with flame, causing fires.

“Because of extreme heat, dried leaves in the backyard caught fire. So one way to prevent that is to clean our backyard of dried leaves,” she stressed. (PNA)