SUPERINTENDENT Rodolfo Denaga, chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Bacolod City, has assigned nine arson investigators to determine the cause of the fire that destroyed almost 200 houses at Purok Riverside, Zone 3, Barangay Banago, on Tuesday, March 1.

Denaga said police were expediting the investigation because they have already received seven complaints against Lemuel Nobleza, the owner of the house where the fire started.

He added that his office was waiting for the signed affidavits of the complainants so that investigators could validate their allegations.

Some residents earlier said that before the incident, they heard Nobleza having a heated argument with his wife, which supposedly prompted him to set their house on fire. Nobleza had denied this.

“We can only file an arson case against Nobleza if the investigation shows that he intentionally burned his house,” Denaga said.

He said that after the fire, Nobleza failed to surface.

Denaga added that police also suspect that the fire could have been caused by an electrical problem.

Bernadeth Fuentes, an officer of Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD) assigned in Barangay Banago, had earlier said 163 houses were destroyed while 23 were damaged.

Seven families shared shelter with the other victims whose houses were destroyed.

A total of 796 individuals were affected. (MAP)