Senior Fire Officer 1 Edward Maldecir, officer-in-charge of the local BFP office, said that based on investigations, the fire originated at the Usman Dry Goods Store, then spread to the other stalls in building number 3 of the Matalam Public Market.
He said a bystander saw the first fire coming out of the Usman store.
The BFP reported that the fire damaged P7.7-million worth of damage to properties and merchandise.
The fire occurred while town officials and constituents were busy during the commemoration of the town's 46th founding anniversary. Most of the people were gathered in the town plaza to witness various activities.
Maldecir said their office received information on the fire too late, and the fire was already huge when firemen arrived at the scene.
"We could no longer control the fire when we reached the place, so had to call assistance from neighboring fire bureaus," Maldecir said.
He lamented that the fire happened despite an information campaign to watch out against fire, especially with the holidays. Maldecir, too, said they conducted seminars among owners of business establishments on fire prevention prior to the renewal of business permits.
Mayor Oscar Valdevieso has instructed the BFP to inspect all business firms to avoid similar incidents. He likewise urged business establishments to have fire extinguishers in the vicinity. (Williamor A. Magbanua/MindaNews)