Big fire destroys hundreds of houses in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 Nov) – Hundreds of houses and other structures were gutted down in a huge fire that hit a crowded coastal community here on Wednesday afternoon.

Firemen help to put out the big fire that destroyed hundreds of houses in General Santos City Wednesday (3 November 2021). There were no casualties reported. MindaNews photo by RICHELYN GUBALANI / contributor

Barangay officials placed the affected houses at 500, although Mayor Ronnel Rivera said he received different reports ranging from 300 to 600.

Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr., head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, estimated the damaged houses at “less than 200.”

Rivera said there were no casualties reported as a result of the fire, which erupted around 1 p.m. and rapidly spread to the four residential zones of Purok Saeg in Barangay Calumpang.

Citing accounts from residents and barangay officials, he said it reportedly started in one of the houses in the area that are mostly made of light materials.

“There were reports that someone was cooking before it happened as it was around lunchtime then but we’re still validating that,” the mayor told reporters.

He said a child was initially reported missing but was eventually found safe by one of the barangay social workers.

The Bureau of Fire Protection declared the fire, which reached the fifth alarm, as under control around 4 p.m. but “mopping operations” are still ongoing as of 5 p.m. to totally extinguish the portions that are still burning.

Rivera said they have mobilized the city’s social workers and other responders to attend to the immediate needs of the affected residents, who were initially brought to the Barangay Calumpang gymnasium.

He said they have prepared the gymnasiums in the neighboring barangays to accommodate the other evacuees.

“We’re doing everything to provide the needs of the affected residents,” he said.

Ryan Dupalco, Calumpang barangay chairman, said they provided vehicles to ferry the evacuees to the barangay gymnasium.

“We’re working double-time to validate the number of affected households and individuals,” he said.

Dupalco said he will convene the barangay council for a special session to facilitate the immediate release of their calamity funds to assist the concerned residents.

He said the affected area, which was estimated at over a hectare, is one of the most populated communities in their barangay.

It covered portions of Zones 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Saeg and within a private property that has a pending ownership dispute. (MindaNews)