Friday night inferno

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

OVER a thousand houses were razed when a five–hour and 20-minute fire that raged through three barangays in densely-populated Quezon Boulevard, Friday evening, leaving at least 3,700 families homeless.

The numbers can go higher as fire investigators are still sifting through the ruins, while social services personnel are still listing up the victims.

Senior Fire Officer 1 Ramil Gillado, of the Bureau of Fire Protection’s Investigation and Intelligence Section (BFP–IIS) in Davao City, in an interview yesterday, said the villages affected are Barangay 21–C, Barangay 22–C, and Barangay 23–C, Isla Verde in Boulevard.

Gillado said the incident was reported to them around 8:15 p.m. He added that the fire started from a house at Isla Verde in Barangay 23–C.

“Based on the initial investigation, the cause of fire was due to an unattended candle inside the house of one Tisay Muhamad. At dahil built of light materials mostly ang mga bahay dun at magkakarugtong pa, madaling kumalat ang apoy,” Gillado said.

Gillado said the firefighters were even having difficulties in putting off the fire due to the tight spaces. The firefighters had to seek the assistance of Marines to put off the fire from the sea.

Isla Verde, where more than 200 Badjao families live, is a village on stilts and has houses that are linked to each other and the main road by wooden planks.

No casualty was reported in the fire incident. But the total damaged was pegged at P15 million, Gillado said. He added that firefighters from various fire stations were able to control the fire at around 1:25 a.m. on Saturday.

“Until now [Saturday at 11 a.m.], we are still conducting investigation as to the total number of houses razed and number of families affected on the incident. As of now, we only have initial investigation about the incident,” Gillado said.

Gillado said the affected families have been evacuated at the covered court of the Mini–Forest, Rizal Elementary School, Quezon Elementary School, Magsaysay Park, and nearby villages.

“Though the celebration of the Fire Prevention Month has ended on March 31… that doesn’t mean we are already free from fire incidents. It can happen anytime, lalo na at hindi po tayo marunong mag–iingat. Sana naman wag tayo maging tanga,” he said.

“The bureau and even the other government agencies have been conducting several drills and seminars for our security. H’wag naman po sana natin sayangin yun, gamitin po natin yung ating mga natutunan, mahirap masunugan,” Gillado added.

Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte arrived at the scene to check and oversees the distribution of assistance to the affected families. Duterte also ordered power restored to prevent looting in the affected areas.

Personnel of the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) are already taking action on the relief and financial assistance for the affected families of the incident.

The BFP Davao recorded around 80 fire incidents, including grassy and vehicle fires since January this year. Gillado added that the recent incident was the biggest fire incident this year.

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