CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: The two workers who perished in a fire that gutted the art gallery of Capitol University along Corrales Street here on Monday morning, died of third degree burns, Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) said.
University officials said the victims – Brian Solarte of Cugman and Dave Marvin Ramoga, 27, of Lapasan, both in Cagayan De Oro City – were hired by a contractor on Sunday to repaint and refurbish the university’s art gallery room that stored various paintings for exhibit.
Investigators said the fire started at past 11 a.m. on Monday but the university personnel put out the fire before it could spread to the auditorium and nearby buildings.
Students and university personnel who were taking their lunch in the adjacent food court also in the auditorium said they heard a loud explosion prior to the fire.
Police regional SOCO, Christian Caballes, said that the casualties might have passed out after thick smoke engulfed them.
“The raging fire might have prevented them from going out through the gallery’s glass door as thick black smoke enveloped the room, rendering the victims unconscious,” Caballes said.
He said found were about 10 big cans of lacquer thinner which are highly flammable and may have ignited the fire. The paintings also are highly combustible because of the mediums used such as acrylic, oil and pastels on canvas.
Investigators have yet to issue findings on the cause of explosion that led to the fire and the extent of damage.