DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/9 Dec) – Around 50 houses were razed to the ground after a two-hour fire broke out along the bank of Davao River in Barangay 1-A this morning.
Fire Inspector Rodolfo Alopenja, chief arson investigator of Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Region 11, said the fire struck at 9:15 a.m. and destroyed at least 50 houses and affected 60 families.
No one was reportedly injured in the fire.
But as of this writing, the City Social Services and Welfare Development Office (CSSWDO) has yet to finalize the list of the affected residents.
The houses in the area were mostly made of light materials. Many of the houses were boarding houses of students and mall workers.
Alopenja said they are still investigating the cause of the fire but they have already pinpointed the house where the fire started. Fire authorities sounded off the highest level of alarm, prompting fire trucks from the nearby cities of Panabo and Tagum to rush to Davao.
Classes were suspended in the adjacent Magallanes Elementary School as three classrooms were partially damaged.
Most of the fire victims sought shelter in the nearby covered court, where several personnel from the CSSWDO attended to them.
Pacito Fabiaña, in his 60s, told MindaNews that the fire started 50 meters away from his house.
He recounted that when the blaze was already near his house, he immediately evacuated his motorcycle and the two family dogs to the nearby gymnasium about 100 meters away.
“Aside from the motorcycle and our dogs, I was not able to save any personal belongings,” he said, adding that when he tried to return to his house, the firefighters and some barangay officials would no longer allow him and the neighbors as the fire spread so fast.
Two hours later, Fabiaña went back to check what was left of his house – only the six concrete posts of what used to be a two-story house by the riverbank were still standing.
His wife, Anita, told MindaNews that she was in Samal Island about to see a quack doctor when their neighbor informed her of the fire. “I immediately rushed back home. Sadly, my husband was not able to save most of our belongings,” she said as one of their dogs leapt towards her.
Five students were renting the second floor while the Fabiañas were running a sari-sari store on the ground floor.
Junjun Elag, a carenderia owner, was not able to save family belongings, too. Even the grocery supplies for the carenderia that he bought just the day before all disappeared.
The fire started right at the back of Elag house. He suspects that an unattended iron caused the fire.
“This is a very unfortunate incident for all of us here during this Christmas season,” he lamented.
When authorities declared the fire was completely out, house owners and scavengers alike scoured the place for whatever they can salvage from the pile of ashes. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)