P9.6M in properties lost to 14 fire incidents in SouthCot in Jan-Feb

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/1 March) – An estimated P9.6-million worth of properties and valuables went up in smoke in 14 fire incidents here and nearby South Cotabato province during the last two months, an official of the Bureau of Fire Protection said.

Chief Insp. Edzrapel Dilawangan, BFP provincial fire marshal, said Wednesday most of the recorded fire incidents in the area were accidental in nature and were mainly caused by faulty electrical wiring, unattended candle and other flammable household materials.

“We were able to respond promptly to all these incidents through our 10 municipal and 2 city fire stations in the area,” he said in a radio interview.

Dilawangan said last Friday’s fire at a commercial area in nearby Koronadal City, where some P5-million worth of properties were devastated, was so far the biggest incident recorded in the area.

Fifteen residential and commercial buildings, including five boarding houses, were gutted down in the incident, which was initially traced to a faulty electrical connection.

Last week, about a million worth of facilities and equipment stored at the armory of the Police Regional Office 12’s regional public safety battalion in Barangay Tambler here was destroyed in a fire.

Police authorities already directed an in-depth investigation on the incident, which was allegedly caused by an accidental gunfire.

Dilawangan said all fire stations in the area, except for Lake Sebu town, presently have operational fire trucks and trained firefighting personnel.

But he admitted that their firefighters lack the required standard equipment and gears such as helmets, gloves, boots, among others.

“If you noticed, some of our firefighters were only wearing T-shirts when they responded to the previous fire calls. We don’t have enough firefighting gears right now and that is a major problem not only here but in all fire stations nationwide,” he said.

Despite their situation, Dilawangan assured local residents that they have been doing everything necessary so they can immediately respond and help minimize the damages in all fire calls that they receive.

“It’s very important for our residents to take extra precautions to prevent fire-related accidents, especially now that the summer season is about to come in,” Dilawangan said.

He warned residents anew against the possible occurrence of grass fires, which usually happen during the summer season.

Major grassfires were recorded in the past years in several parts of this city and in upland grassy and forested areas in nearby towns of Polomolok, Tantangan, Banga and Tupi in South Cotabato.

Meantime, as part of the celebration of the Fire Prevention Month, which started Wednesday, the official said they are set to conduct a series of information and education campaigns on fire prevention.

He said they will be visiting local schools, private and public institutions as well as local media outlets to discuss various fire prevention measures and related practices. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)