P5M in properties damaged in GenSan blaze

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 January) — An estimated P5 million worth of properties were destroyed in a huge fire that gutted down a row of houses and other structures in a crowded community here on Sunday night.

Fire Officer 3 Melvin Barrameda, investigator at the Bureau Fire Protection here, said Monday the fire broke out at past 6 p.m. Sunday in a residential area in Purok Zone 1-B of Barangay Bula.

Citing accounts from local residents, he said it started shortly after power was restored in the area following a scheduled 12-hour brownout.

South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative implemented the outage starting 2 a.m. on Sunday to facilitate the emergency maintenance works on its main office power sub-station.

Barrameda said they were able to respond at the scene at around 6:30 p.m. and controlled the fire about an hour later.

He said fire trucks from the Polomolok fire station in South Cotabato and the Alabel fire station in Sarangani Province also responded at the scene.

“But it spread quite fast and already engulfed several houses by then as some of them were made of light materials, he said in a radio interview.

Based on their initial investigation, Barrameda said the incident reportedly started at the house owned by the family of Nancy Lacuatan.

He said local residents initially heard a loud explosion then noticed a thick smoke coming from Lacuatan’s house.

“We’re presently verifying these accounts to establish what really happened and the real cause of the incident,” he said.

Barrameda said a total of 17 houses and related structures were totally gutted down in the fire, which was totally put out at around 9p.m.

A report released by the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) cited that 14 families lost their homes but no casualties were reported.

Dr. Agripino Dacera, CDRRMO chief, said the local government has already released some assistance to the affected residents, who are currently taking temporary shelter at the Barangay Bula gymnasium. (MindaNews)