FIREFIGHTERS on Saturday continued to battle the fire that broke out at the toy department’s stockroom at the third level of Metro Ayala in Cebu just as the mall was about to close on Friday night.
The Bureau of Fire Protection – Region 7 (BFP-7) has raised the fire alarm to Task Force Bravo which means all fire stations in Cebu are called to respond to the fire scene after the blaze was reported by Ayala Mall management.
Employees and some customers at the department store safely got out of the establishment when the fire started, authorities said.
An advisory issued by the management said the fire broke out at Metro Gaisano department store.
Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO) Chief Nagiel Bañacia said they had a hard time containing the blaze because of highly combustible materials in the toy store that rapidly spread to the department store where clothing materials and other flammable stocks were gobbled up by the fire.
He added that the 4th level of the building has collapsed.
From the reported fire at about 9:30 p.m. on Friday until this writing on Saturday, more fire trucks responded to the area including to those from Chinese volunteers fire brigades.
The CCDRRMO has projected it would take two days to control the fire.
Bañacia advised those living or staying near Cebu Business Park where the mall is located to evacuate or transfer to safer areas to avoid hazardous or toxic fumes coming from the fire.
Fire investigators are probing on the building’s water sprinkler if it is working.
One fireman told members of the media that they lack elevated ladders that will help them reach higher floors since the fire started on the third level, making it difficult for them to train water hose at that level.
The mall was cordoned off and policemen and blue guards were securing the vicinity of the mall as two volunteers – back hoe operator and dump truck driver – were caught stealing signature rubber shoes inside the burning mall. They were turned over to the police.