MANILA, Philippines – At least 23 people were injured when a leak at a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) refilling station triggered an explosion followed by a fire that hit several business establishments and residential buildings in Pasig City at dawn yesterday.
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said it would intensify inspection of gas refilling stations to ensure public safety following the incident.
Chief Superintendent Romulo Sapitula, director of the Eastern Police District (EPD), placed the damage to property at P20 million.
Sapitula said the fire started at the Regasco refilling station located along Sandoval street in Barangay San Miguel, spreading to Omni Gas Corp. (OGC), Flying V gas station, a hardware store and several houses near the refilling station.
Among the victims were Donis Muñoz, 22; Jayro Soriano, 22; Jectopher Cawili, 21; Romeo Eugenio, 28; Camilo Alcaraz Jr., 18; Alejandro Conrad, 42; Raymundo Saturnino, 20; Jason Dagaw, 25; Philip Villota, 28;Domingo Guira, 29; Jeffrey Eugenio, 35; Raymart Eda, 22; Joel Eda, 28; Ramil Reden, 21; Arvin Bautista, 20; Jeter Brillantes, 25; Noriel Salamio, 22; Bryan Ludrico, 20 and William Khey, 39, all employees of the OGC, and Epifanio Ausa, 50, who worked at a furniture shop next to the LPG refilling station.
They were taken to the Rizal Medical Center, Pasig City General Hospital, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center and Quirino Memorial Medical Center for treatment of third degree burns.
Pasig fire marshal Superintendent Arturo Marcos said residents in the area smelled gas leak emanating from the storage area of the refilling station at past 1 a.m.
Myra Sarmiento, 31, cashier of Flying V, said she and her companions ran away when they heard two loud explosions prior to the fire.
A wall collapsed due to the impact of the twin explosions, hitting Ausa.
The blaze reached Task Force Alpha, the highest fire alarm, prompting fire trucks from Pasig and other parts of Metro Manila to respond to the incident.
The fire was declared under control at 2:23 a.m.
BFP spokesman Chief Inspector Ian Manalo stressed the need for strict inspection of LPG refilling stations before issuing permits.
According to Manalo, they do not have an exact figure of gas refilling stations in the country as these fall under the mercantile occupancy category such as stores selling retail goods.
As the number of refilling stations could be in the thousands, Manalo said they would have their hands full.
The fire bureau has 22,729 officers and personnel, way below its ideal number of about 50,000. – With Emmanuel Tupas