DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 July) — A fire destroyed a decades-old historical school building of the F. Bustamante Central Elementary School in Tibungco District here at 7:31 p.m.Friday, affecting a total of 1,285 students, City Fire Marshal Major Virna Silagan said on Saturday.
Silagan told MindaNews that the security guard, Edito Tagbilaran, witnessed the fire emanating from the Alternative Learning System (ALS) room, one of the 14 rooms of the gutted Gabaldon-type main building.
The old school building, made of light materials, was constructed during the American colonial period in the 1930’s. Authorities believe the cause of fire was electrical short circuit, she said.
The estimated cost of damage was placed at P1.2 million.
No one was reported injured during the incident.
From January to June 2018, Silagan said the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 11 recorded a total of 227 fire incidents in the city.
Jenielito Atillo, spokesperson of the Department of Education (Deped) 11 said the fire incident affected 13 classes, including the special education and ALS classes, and destroyed even the principal’s office, property room, numeracy and faculty rooms, branch of the Davao City library, and adjacent PAGCOR building.
The school building housed the classes of students from Grades 1 to 3, 5, and 6 who will utilize the conference rooms, gyms and other ancillary rooms as “all palliative measures employed to cushion the effect of the conflagration,” he added.
Atillo added the historical Gabaldon-type building, identified as a “important cultural property” under National Cuultural Heritage Act of 2009, was rehabilitated twice and the most recent was just last year.
The law states that DepEd shall be responsible in instituting the governance of basic education act, and the conservation and restoration of its built heritage such as the significant Gabaldon school buildings as determined by the National Historical Institute. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)