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Pre-dawn fire leaves 4 dead, 1,500 homeless

MANILA – A pre-dawn fire in a slum area in Quezon City last Sunday has left four people dead and 1,500 families homeless.

The casualties in the blaze in Barangay Pinyahan included siblings Ariane Alcala, 7, and Alfred John, 10 months. The other victims were identified as Jaypee Baflor, 24 and another male who remained unidentified.

Reports quoted Quezon City Fire Marshall Bobby Baruelo as saying the remains of the unidentified victim and Alcala siblings were recovered after the fire.

Baflor, on the other hand, suffered injuries and was rushed to the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC). He was later declared dead on arrival shortly before 3 in the morning.

Baruelo said the children’s mother, Pearl Joy, 30, also suffered injuries in her left arm and right leg when she jumped over the barbed fence of the National Statistics Office (NSO) in order to escape the flames.

An estimated PhP7 million worth or properties were destroyed, numbering at least 500 shanty homes.

The Fire Marshall said that the blaze originated at the two-storey shanty house located at A-100 NIA Road owned by a certain Ruth Ascencio. He cited that the ground floor was abandoned and was only being used as a hangout by a group of youths.

A Manila Bulletin report said Pearl Joy was sleeping with her three children in their apartment on the second floor of 74-A NIA Road when the fire broke out. According to the report, Pearl Joy was awaken that early morning because of the commotion of neighbors due to the fire.

She then quickly woke her children and rushed out of their unit carrying Alfred and dragging her two other kids. She lamented that when they got down the fire was blocking the way out and debris was falling everywhere.

Thereafter, she and her children got back up and found an opening through the barbed fence of the NSO with her other child Arabella, 4, as the first person to get through.

“Since the fire had caught up with them, Pearl Joy was forced to jump over the barbed fence and failed to get her two other children who were quickly consumed by the flames,” the report said.

Firefighters were able to control the fire at 4:20 a.m. and declared the fire out shortly after 6 in the morning.

Affected families are now temporarily staying on the streets near the National Electrification Administration and East Avenue.