Demolition of burned mall in Davao causes minor fire

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 May) – The demolition of the burned NCCC Mall Davao sparked a minor fire as workers cleared the four-story establishment of the voluminous debris of light materials on Friday morning.

Thirty eight workers, 37 of them call center agents, were killed during the December 23, 2017 fire in the NCCC Mall Davao along Matina corner Ma-a, Davao City. MindaNews photo taken on January 8, 2018 by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

Thea S. Padua, the company’s public relations manager, said in a statement the incident occurred at 10 a.m. while the workers performed hot works during the standard demolition activity on the sixth day since it began on May 19.

She said the fire started from the pile of trash and Styrofoam that was ignited by the cutting torches of the workers.

She said the mall’s contractor, D.M. Consunji, Inc., immediately reported the incident to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 11.

Quoting demolition site engineer Leonard Gabilo, Padua said the fire was contained after 20 minutes with the help of local fire department, 911, and Davao fire volunteers.

She said no one was injured during the incident while the operations immediately resumed.

Padua said the contractor assured that the demolition will take into primary consideration the safety of surrounding areas, the neighboring community, and the workers on site.

The demolition started on May 19, nearly five months after the December 23, 2017 fire that killed 37 trapped call center agents and one mall employee, she said.

The city building official approved the mall management’s application for demolition permit on February 20. The mall applied for demolition last February 2 and paid the city a permit fee worth P187,854.

On December 24, rescuers recovered one of the 38 missing victims inside the comfort room on the fourth floor where most of the trapped workers reportedly huddled shortly after the fire broke out at 9:30 a.m. on December 23.

On December 25, Christmas Day, BFP-11 director Senior Supt. Wilberto Rico Neil A. Kwan Tiu announced after a mass held outside the mall that rescue and retrieval operation workers recovered 36 charred bodies at the lobby of the Survey Sampling International (SSI) office on the fourth floor.

On January 4, the body of the last remaining missing victim was recovered in a small crack on the floor, within the area where authorities recovered the remains of 36 bodies.

The SSI (formerly Opinionology) had been operating at the NCCC Mall since 2008. The company has moved to its new location at the five-story Robinsons’ Cybergate Delta along J.P. Laurel Avenue.

Initial findings of the investigation by the Interagency Anti-Arson Task Force found that the mall and SSI failed to comply with fire safety requirements as they found lapses in the setup of the mall’s fire alarm, sprinkler system, and fire exits.

The task force is composed of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Fire Protection, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 11. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)