Major fire has blazed Tutuban Mall past midnight on September 5, marking the first fire disaster in Metro Manila in the first “ber” month.
Initial investigation revealed that the fire started around 12:41 a.m. on the ground floor of Cluster 1 building of the infamous Divisoria mall, according to GMA News. Consequently, the fire reached Task Force Alpha (4:00 a.m.) and Charlie (5:30 a.m.) before sunrise.
According to the progress report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), “The fire was traced to have started at the mid-portion of Stall no. C-18, occupied by a certain Maria Theresa Chen, at the ground floor then spreading out to the entire commercial building according to the ocular inspection made by the members of the Arson team led by Clnsp Bonifacio C Carta.”
Many fire brigades across Metro Manila joined forces to extinguish the Tutuban Mall fire. Among the first troops to control the fire incident on the three-storey Cluster 1 Building are firefighters from Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Manila, Tondo, San Nicolas, and San Lazaro fire stations. Fire Ground Commander CSupt. Santiago E. Laguna, National Capital Region (NCR) Regional Director, was in charge of the situation along the course of the fire outbreak.
Two firefighters, identified by ABS-CBN News as Zaldy Bautista and Leonardo Mariano, were rushed to the hospital due to breathing difficulty brought about by suffocation.
Katrina Busque, a lady passerby, also suffered injury on the forehead after being hit by debris falling from the building. She was immediately brought to Abad Santos General Hospital for medical treatment.
While the Tutuban Mall fire initially consumed a garment store with flammable fabrics, many other combustible materials in lockdown stalls agitated the blaze. The fire gave off thick smoke all over the poorly ventilated building that has crippled firemen in keeping the situation under control, not to mention limited water supply. A pumping machine was used to retrieve recycled water.
Firemen resorted to using some sort of breathing apparatus along with portable lights to navigate the place. They also employed chemical foam to control the temperature in the burning establishment. Power supply was cut and proximate roads were closed in response to the situation, too.
Chief Insp. Bonifacio Carta, BFP Manila arson investigator, disclosed that 20 stalls were burned on the ground floor of the building, although he wasn’t able to confirm the cause of the fire incident yet, according to ABS-CBN News.
As of 2:00 a.m. today, the fire is still ongoing, and it has gone overboard surpassing the 24-hour mark, according to GMA News update.
Metro Cebu hit by three fires in 24 hours
Prior to the Tutuban Mall fire in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu was also hit by three fire incidents in 24 hours.
A huge fire has left over 100 homes burned in Sitio Kalubihan 2, Brgy. Umapad, Mandaue City on September 3, with an estimated damage of Php1.1 million.
The fire started around 8:50 p.m. and was placed under control around 10:00 p.m., according to SF03 Roy Garcia of the Mandaue City Fire Department in an Inquirer news report. By 12:55 a.m. the next day, firefighters declared “fire out” while the Barangay Council later declared a state of calamity.
On the same day at about 6:30 a.m., Mandaue City Fire Department was alarmed once again by a fire outbreak in the residential property of Prudence Andrew Sabata in Brgy. Canduman, leaving a portion of the house burned thereafter.
Another fire broke out at 1:08 p.m. in a two-storey commercial building leased by Johua Lim in Brgy. San Roque, Cebu City. According to Lowel Opolenticima of BFP 7 Cebu in a Sun.Star Cebu report, the fire was placed under control in less than 30 minutes. Modern Metal Marketing, the hardware consumed by the fire, lost Php3.5 million.
News reports might have claimed zero fire casualties in Metro Cebu, but the unfortunate aftermath is likely to injure the lives of homeless victims, who are temporarily lodged in Umapad Elementary School and in a nearby vacant lot relying on relief goods.