ZAMBOANGA CITY: More than 300 houses were burned late Wednesday after a huge fire swept through a Muslim neighborhood.
Officials said the conflagration broke out before 7 p.m. during a power outage at Campo Islam in the seaside Lower Calarian.
The Bureau of Fire Protection is still probing the cause of the blaze that destroyed properties estimated at P3 million.
Firemen had difficulty controlling the blaze which lasted for hours because of the narrow passages in the area.
Villagers, who lost their homes, took shelter in safer areas while the others sought refuge in nearby John Spirig Elementary School.
There was no immediate report of casualties, but many people were hurt in the stampede that erupted in the village after the fire razed wooden houses in alleys. One fire fighter Edward Natividad was also injured in the blaze.
Residents tried to protect their houses from the fire by dousing water, but they were no match to the blaze that quickly spread in the neighborhood near a huge oil mill owned by the International Copra Corporation.
Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar rushed to the area to see the plight of the victims and ordered social workers to attend to the residents with her leading the relief operations. City Hall also put out pictures on its official Facebook page showing the conflagration.
The local police chief, Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, was also in the village supervising the security in the area.