KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/25 February) — Fire gutted almost an entire block at a crowded commercial district here Friday, destroying an estimated P5-million worth of property and valuables.
Chief Insp. Edzrapel Dilawangan, South Cotabato fire marshall, said no casualties were reported but 15 residential and business establishments along Roxas, Abad Santos and Rizal streets were leveled by the fire that started at past 4 p.m.
The affected establishments comprised five boarding houses, three stores, two residences, two balloon shops, a tailoring, an eatery and a billiards hall, he said.
The official said among those totally destroyed was a three-storey boarding house building, which caters to students from a nearby university.
“According to (Koronadal) Mayor Peter Miguel, the damage on the three-storey building alone could be worth around P3 to P4 million.
The Koronadal City fire station estimated an initial damage of P1 million from the other establishments,” Dilawangan said in a radio interview.
But he said the damage value could still increase as their investigators have yet to complete their assessment and clearing operations at the fire scene.
Based on their initial investigation, Dilawangan said the fire allegedly originated from the residence of the Tiamzon family.
He said they have yet to establish the cause of the incident but their investigators initially theorized that it could have been triggered by a faulty electrical connection.
He said the fire immediately spread towards neighboring establishments, including those located across the street where it supposedly started.
“It spread so fast because of the electrical lines and the strong winds,” said Dilawangan, citing accounts from witnesses.
Dilawangan said fire trucks from the Koronadal City fire station and the volunteer fire brigade of a local shopping mall was able to respond at the scene after the first fire call.
He said firefighters and fire trucks from other nearby municipal fire stations also helped contain the fire, which was controlled about an hour later.
“Right now, were conducting a thorough check at the scene for other possible faulty and illegal electrical connections as well as overloaded lines to prevent a similar incident,” he added.
On orders of Mayor Miguel, the city government through the City Social Welfare and Development Office established an assistance center that addresses the immediate needs of the affected residents. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)