Survivors: No fire exit, 'store owner locked the main door'-A A +A
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
AT LEAST one of the five survivors in the barangay Puerto fire incident that killed eight stay-in workers here last Saturday dawn dared to share the stunning revelation that there was no fire exit at the store.
Still horrified at her hospital bed, Marian Ponce--who sustained burns in some parts of her body--claimed that there was no fire exit in sight in the market building that was razed by the deadly fire of a still-unknown origin.
"Wala koy nakita nga fire exit kay kung naa pa dili unta maapil og kasunog ang akong mga kauban kay mas una pa gud sila sa ako nga nagtrabaho nakahibalo gyud unta sila," said Ponce in an interview over RMN-dxCC radio.
In fact, Ponce said they had to break the window glass of the sleeping quarter that they occupied so they could escape with the help of the people downstairs who provided them a ladder.
Ponce's testimony also corroborated the statement made earlier by another survivor Zoraida Tortogo who claimed that she found no other way to survive than to destroy their room's window.
The remaining three survivors are Alvin Concon and Paul Mark Humuleno, both 17-year-olds, and one Reymark Hajulino.
Burned to death were 17-year-old Shirley Tortogo, Emilyn Chong, Chembelyn Macuse, Jackelyn Resurecion, Russel Padero, Benjie Tanio, Luz Pana-Zulita and Lorena Pahunang, who was seven months pregnant. They were all employees of the burned-down SP Foods and Groceries owned by Elsa Pana.
City Fire Marshall Benigno Amomonpon, in a separate interview with Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro, said that the Soriano family--who owned the five-door commercial building that housed the grocery--may not be held liable for the tragedy "because the structures of their building are intended for commercial purposes and not for residential".
Amomonpon said the Soriano building also has a secondary fire exit.
"Naay fire exit kay usa man kana sa requirements kung magtukod og building, nataranta lang sila pagkasunog," Amomonpon told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
Amomonpon, however, said that the grocery store owner may face reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide should investigations reveal a probable cause of negligence.
It was reported, Amomonpon relates, that Elsa Pana locked the main door of the grocery story while her stay-in workers were sleeping inside.
"She may be more 'security conscious' of her establishment than looking at the safety of her employees," Amomonpon said.
Pana's sister and store manager Luz was among those who were trapped and perished in fire.
Amomonpon said they could not reveal yet the cause of the fire, though he states that "we're already 80 percent in our ongoing investigation." (Annabelle L. Ricalde and Louie S. Maliza)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 10, 2010.