AT least one person died and some 5,000 residents were evacuated when fire gutted their 12-storey condominium in Binondo, Manila on Thursday, an official said.
Insp. Hector Agadulin of the Manila Fire Protection Bureau identified the lone fatality as Patricia Saw, an occupant of Unit 804 of the Binondo Terraces on Alvarado Street, Barangay 292, Zone 28, District 3.
Agadulin said firemen had difficulty finding people trapped inside their units because these were locked to secure their property and belongings from robbers.
The affected families were evacuated to the open court of Barangay 292 under the supervision of its Chairman Mary Chua.
The fire which, as of posting time, continues to engulf the building, started at 11:36 a.m. and was traced to an unattended stove inside Unit 805 on the eighth floor. The fire immediately spread to nearby floors and has reached fifth alarm.
Traffic was closed on all roads leading to Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz and Recto Avenue.
Almost all occupants of the condominium are Filipino-Chinese.
Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada ordered an extensive inspection of medium- and high-rise buildings in the city, especially the old and dilapidated ones, to determine if they have complied with fire safety regulations.
“We should check and identify those buildings and structures that had become fire traps. We should act now before it’s too late,” he said.
The order was directed at the Office of the City Engineer and the Manila Fire Department.