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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, October 8, 2013
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100 families flee

Thick white smoke from a newly-harvested sugarcane field, burned by farm workers yesterday engulfed the entire Hope Village and neighboring puroks in Brgy. 1, in EB Magalona, forcing more than 100 families to temporarily flee from their homes.

Residents of Hope Village, that is located beside the burned canefield, in Brgy. Tuburan, EB Magalona complained of difficulty in breathing and dizziness, among others, because of the thick smoke.

The responsibility for the burning was traced to workers of an hacienda in Brgy. Tuburan, EB Magalona, owned by the family of Sugar Regulatory Administrator Gina Bautista-Martin.

The burning of the sugarcane trash, at about 12:30 p.m. yesterday, lasted for more than one hour, and threatened the residential area of Hope Village, as the fire was fanned by strong winds, witnesses said.

Angry residents confronted the hacienda workers responsible for the burning of the sugarcane trash. However, the workers claimed they were just complying with the order of their supervisor, who apparently, did not consider the consequences of their action.

This was the second time since last year that hacienda workers burned the sugarcane field, that it is very near the residential area.

Mayor David Albert Lacson yesterday discouraged the burning of sugarcane fields near the populated area, saying it poses danger to health and properties.

The municipal highway from the town proper to Brgy. Tuburan was rendered impassable for almost an hour due to the intense heat and heavy smoke from the burning cane field.

The Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire and Protection were also bombarded with complaints from affected residents of Brgy. 1 poblacion, especially those at the Hope Village.

A BFP fire truck arrived at the fire scene to investigate later in response to mounting complaints from the Hope Village residents.

An hour after the smoke subsided, disgusted residents returned to their homes. *GPB

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