(File photo)
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The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) asked the city government’s help on Friday to strictly enforce the “Anti-Burning Law” that prohibits the burning of leaves and other waste materials.

Fire Officer 2 Mark Anthony Llacuna, BFP assistant information officer, said their records show that 100 percent of the recent grass fires were caused by “open and backyard burning.”

Some grass fires were accidentally caused by residents burning dried leaves in their backyard, while some intentionally set fields on fire to get rid of the weeds, he said.

“Strict implementation [dapat] talaga ng batas na iyon, i-download sana sa mga barangay kasi sila mismo ‘yong nakakaalam kung sino ‘yong may-ari ng mga lupa. Kapag may resolusyon naman, ma-finalize natin, at least mabigyan ng penalty [ang mga magsusunog pa] para maging lesson sa iba kung mamultahan [ang mapatunayang gumawa]. Hindi ‘yan napapansin kasi kapag walang naging victim, kapag walang namatay, ipinagsasawalang-bahala lang po,” Llacuna pointed out.

He said the number of grass fires in the first two months of the year is significantly high compared to 2018. These grass fires happened in Barangays San Jose, Sta. Lourdes, Sta. Monica, and Sicsican, BFP data showed.

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One of these grass fires was the incident near the city landfill in Sta. Lourdes that was caused by a nearby resident who was burning dried leaves that got swept by the wind to a grassy area.

Under Republic Act 9003, or the Philippines’ Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, open burning of solid waste is prohibited.

The law imposes a fine of P300 to P1,000, and one to 15 days of imprisonment for violators.

Records of the BFP showed that six grass fires happened in 2017 and only two in 2018.

He said in 2017, a grass fire that occurred in a five-hectare area took 100 drums or 20,800 liters of water and eight fire truck dispatches to put out. Some of the engines of the four fire trucks gave up after the whole day fire.

“Nasisira ‘yong mga firetruck kasi halos mag-hapon ‘yan kapag nagkaroon ng grass fire lalo na pagdating ng March. Mapapansin natin minsan tatlong truck sabay-sabay nasisira kasi mahirap patayin [ang apoy] dahil malawakan. Minsan lima hanggang sampung ektarya sa isang araw, at ‘yong sunog noon malapit sa bahay. Sila rin po [ang city government] ang mahihirapan kasi doon kami magre-request ng pagpapa-repair ng truck, magagastusan po ang city government. Pero kung pamumultahin natin at pagtutulungan ng peace and order council, tama talaga na maibaba sa mga barangay [ang direktiba],” he reiterated.

Llacuna said these resources could have been preserved for other use, especially during the summer when the supply of water is very limited.

Llacuna said grass fires must be treated seriously and prevention is very much necessary.

In Sta. Lourdes, he said, a man died after he was trapped in a grass fire.

“Namatay po ‘yan, ‘yong bahay nasunog talaga, tsaka ‘yong motor niya na-trap na siya sa gitna ng kakugonan. Nadamay lang siya, hindi siya ang nagsunog,” he said.

Llacuna said he observed no person has been held accountable yet by the city government for violating the law since 2010 when he started working for BFP.

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