A seven-hour fire killed two residents and burned over 200 houses to the ground rendering 500 families homeless in Malabon City on Tuesday.
Arson probers said the fire started at around 8:20pm at a house in Barangay Tonsuya, Malabon City. The conflagration spread rapidly through houses built with light materials.
Fatalities were identified as Virginia Ytac, 62 who was left inside their burning home trying to save some valuables while the body of a certain Lolo Erespe, 80, was recovered inside a drum.
Bureau of Fire Protection-National Capital Region (BFP-NCR) director Sr. Supt. Sergio Soriano Jr. said that four firemen were injured, among them Eden Santos, who took a blow to the head from a fire hose while another fireman, Michael Tubalinal, was smacked across the forehead by residents who attacked him.
A still undetermined number of firefighters were injured, some allegedly stabbed after some irate residents allegedly assaulted them at the height of the fire.
Volunteer firefighters had to withdraw from the area after residents started pelting them with rocks, which broke their firetruck’s windshield.
Responding firemen explained that they were hampered by residents who swooped down on their fire trucks and grabbed the firefighting equipment so they could train the hoses on their houses.
The fire alarm reached Task Force Delta (around 25 fire trucks have to be in the area), and was finally put out at 3:55 a.m. on Wednesday.
The BFP estimated property damage at P3 million.
Meanwhile, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II on Wednesday ordered the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Bureau of Fire Protection-National Capital Region (BFP-NCR) to immediately launch a joint investigation on the alleged attack by fire victims on firemen.
“These are individuals who put their own lives on the line in the name of duty,” Roxas said.
This was after Roxas received words from the Association of Philippine Volunteer Fire Brigades, Inc., that instructed all volunteer fire brigades to pull out from a fire that broke out on Tuesday evening in Brgy. Tonsuya, Malabon City.
According to reports, four firefighters were injured while they were extinguishing the fire. Two of them were Eden Santos, who received a blow to the head from a fire hose, and Michael Tubalinal, who was smacked across the forehead. Residents also reportedly threw rocks at the fire volunteers.
“Indeed, we cannot afford to sacrifice the personal safety and security of our volunteers,” Roxas said.
In the meantime, Roxas reminded the public to be more calm and responsible on such occasions, while highlighting that fires should be prevented all together.
WITH REPORTS FROM PNA