Dry season grass fires

In early April, 2014, there were a large number of grass fires that burned several hundred acres from Nimitz Hill where I live all the way south to Mt. Tenjo and further south to the Mt. Alutom area. Grass fires are not uncommon on Guam, in fact they occur just about every dry season in the spring. Of course you have unintentionally set fires, the result of carelessly discarded cigarettes along the roadside, but quite often these fires are set intentionally by poachers. Heavy underbrush provides cover in which pigs and deer can hide, so burning this cover eliminates hiding spots. Additionally, the new grass that grows following a fire is tender and attracts animals.

Unfortunately, these fires cause quite a bit of damage. Aside from the risk to residences, these fires often decimates endangers species which are unable to escape the burn. Additionally, the burned areas lost their grass cover which anchors the soil, so rains cause heavy erosion which blankets the coral reefs with smothering silt.

Following earlier fires that burned the summit of Mt. Tenjo, I decided to hike out to try to locate remnants of the old WW1 era Marine battery that used to be located there.

Looking north to Mt. Chacao, you can see how the burned areas contrasted with the green unburned foliage.

Looking north to Mt. Chacao, you can see how the burned areas contrasted with the green unburned foliage.

From the summit of Mt. Tenjo, looking west at the whole of Orote Peninsula, which is where Naval Station Guam is located.

From the summit of Mt. Tenjo, looking west at the whole of Orote Peninsula, which is where Naval Station Guam is located.

Atop Mt. Tenjo, remnants of the gun battery were easy to locate because all the grass had been burned off. What I was not expecting were foxholes - many of them - guarding the summit.  It turns out that these are WW2 era and I will post about them more in depth later.

Foxholes aren't very photogenic, however this one can be easily discerned, guarding the southern approach to the summit.

Foxholes aren't very photogenic, however this one can be easily discerned, guarding the southern approach to the summit.

At the true summit, this remnant was part of a visual signaling device that allowed the battery to communicate with those down on Orote Point.  The pole and signaling board had fallen and were laying fown the back side of the hill.

At the true summit, this remnant was part of a visual signaling device that allowed the battery to communicate with those down on Orote Point.

You can see some of the original mounting bolts used to hold down one of the three 6" naval guns placed atop Mt. Tenjo,

You can see some of the original mounting bolts used to hold down one of the three 6" naval guns placed atop Mt. Tenjo,

This is a section of the trench dug by the Marines during the prewar years, to defend the rear of the battery.

This is a section of the trench dug by the Marines during the prewar years, to defend the rear of the redoubt.

This is the only structure that remains at Mt. Tenjo.  Shielded from the fires by an oasis of sorts, this building is often mislabeled as being Japanese Occupation in origin.  In fact, it was built during the construction of the battery in the early post WW1 years.

This is the only structure that remains at Mt. Tenjo. Shielded from the fires by an oasis of sorts, this building is often mislabeled as being Japanese Occupation in origin. In fact, it was built during the construction of the battery in the early post WW1 years.

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This post was written by admin on July 27, 2014

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