SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/25 December) — Surigao City residents were treated to a pre-Christmas fireworks show after an accidental explosion nearly burned a row of firecracker stores hours before Dec. 25, injuring three persons including a responding fireman.
Firecracker vendor Nasro Manangkiran, 23, said a male customer bought some “kwitis” at around 2:00 p.m. when he noticed that one of the firecrackers was giving off sparks, already about to go off.
When it did, the blast triggered a series of explosions that decimated almost all the makeshift stores lined up at the boulevard, where firecracker vendors traditionally display their wares during Christmas season, Manangkiran said.
The fire devoured some P750,000 worth of firecrackers and fireworks, the vendors estimated.
Vendors and customers scampered for safety but Palawan Caleb and Aga Manangkiran—both vendors—suffered minor burns and injuries. Jimson Esnardo, one of the firefighters who responded to the 2:15 p.m. call was slightly wounded when a firecracker exploded on his leg.
Aga Managkiran, who sustained a wound on his right arm, said he and his family members tried to salvage the other firecrackers in their store, to no avail. He added that the explosion occurred in only a matter of seconds.
Senior Fire Officer 3 Felipe M. Ladaga, who headed the responding team, said up to three fire trucks sprayed water on the exploding on firecrackers before fire was put out at around 2:35 p.m.
Ralph Anthony Rowan, head of the Quick Action Response Team (QART), said they immediately responded to the fire alarm with two fire trucks and two ambulances. The Filipino-Chinese Volunteers Fire Brigade also responded to the fire.
Superintendent Jonatahn G. Trojello, head of Police Station 1 in Surigao City, said that while no one was seriously hurt during the incident, they were verifying reports that one person was rushed to the Caraga Regional Hospital.
He said police were also checking on other vendors who got hurt when they tried to save their stores.
Trojello said some 41 meters of makeshift store of 17 vendors were totally burned out of the estimated 80 meters lining up the boulevard.
As of press time, the authorities were still investigating the incident.
City Officials headed by Vice Mayor Danilo Menor went to the scene to check the incident. He said he is contemplating to stop the sale of firecrackers to the public.
Ernesto T. Kang of City Hall’s Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) said only Aga Manangkiran has a permit to sell firecrackers the rest were called him as illegal vendors.
During the conference yesterday afternoon, City Hall officials declared a temporary suspension in selling firecrackers. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)