GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 Oct) – A fire that broke out at the Gaisano Mall here after the magnitude 6.3 earthquake Wednesday evening has so far razed almost half of the entire compound, and firemen are still fighting the blaze the morning after, reports said.
The fire erupted following a strong aftershock past 8 p.m., according to Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr., head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO). The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported a magnitude 5.5 quake at 8:09 p.m., or 32 minutes after the main quake.
“As of now, the fire in several sections of the mall was already contained but the operations are still ongoing,” he said in a radio interview around 8:30 a.m., adding that firefighters coming from as far as Davao City were still battling the fire.
Dacera, who is leading the emergency and support operations at the scene, said that as far as he could see, almost half of the mall was already affected by the fire.
He said there were no reported casualties as of Thursday morning as mall goers and employees were immediately evacuated when the fire started.
Dacera, quoting mall personnel, said the fire originated at the kitchenware, furniture and plastic ware sections at the ground level.
It eventually reached the second level and rapidly spread to the other sections.
Chief Supt. Louie Puracan, director of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-Region 12, declared a general alarm before midnight Wednesday.
Chief Insp. Reginald Legaste, city fire marshal, said the fire is currently at the fifth alarm, with firefighters from Region 12 and the neighboring regions assisting the operations.
He said the investigation is still ongoing as the origin and possible cause of the fire.
Dacera said almost all BFP, private volunteer firefighting and rescue units in the region are helping out in putting the fire.
“We have firefighters now from Davao City. They brought their assets here, which is really a big help,” he said. (MindaNews)