One boutique totally damaged: Fire hits mall at Fuente Osmeña
- Niña G. Sumacot-Abenoja () - April 18, 2011 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Firefighters and volunteers were able to safely evacuate all people from a shopping mall and a hotel near Fuente Osmeña after a mid afternoon fire hit the establishment.

Fire broke out at one of the boutiques inside Robinson’s Place at around 3 p.m. sending shoppers, employees, and guests of the Cebu Midtown Hotel, which is above the shopping mall scrambling to safety.

The Cebu City Fire Department, which received the alarm at 3:04 p.m. immediately called the second alarm.

It took the firefighters over two hours to declare the fire under control. The Bench boutique was totally damaged and Mang Inasal, which is adjacent to it, also sustained some damage.

As of presstime last night, firemen were still at the scene to make sure that the fire would not reignite.

Cebu City Fire Marshal Aderson Comar said the fire was controlled and was not able to spread to other establishments, but admitted they had difficulty in clearing out the area because of the thick smoke.

He said there were limited openings inside the mall so they had to break some windows to allow the smoke to dissipate.

There was no fire damage to the department store, said the fire officials, but there were goods that sustained water damage.

The thick smoke reached up to the Midtown Hotel, Comar said.

Fire Officer 2 Emiliano Daño, one of the fire investigators, said 20 people, who were guests and employees of the hotel, were rescued as they could not leave the building when the fire broke out.

The firefighters had to use their aerial ladders to bring the people down.

Donald Kintanar, who was one of those rescued, sustained injuries on both hands, when he was forced to climb down a rope, Daño said.

Daño added that they also found a man from the Middle East who was sleeping inside his room and wasn’t aware of the incident.

He was also brought to safety.

Daño said he has still to account for those people, who reportedly got suffocated and were taken to the hospital.

Daño said, according to the mall’s security guard, the fire started from the Bench boutique.

According to the boutique’s saleslady, however, she saw flames at the escalator and then the fire broke out.

Daño said they will visit the area this morning to check the extent of the damage and to verify what really triggered the fire.

Firemen from fire stations in Metro Cebu, including the Cebu Filipino-Chinese Volunteer Fire Brigade, and rescuers from the Philippine Air Force and Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation, helped during the incident.

Cebu City Police Office director Melvin Ramon Buenafe deployed his men to secure the perimeter of the mall from potential thieves, to help control the flow of traffic, and to control the crowd especially the kibitzers. 

RESCUED

Mary Ann Arobo was with her one-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son sleeping in their room at the 6th floor of Cebu Midtown Hotel when they heard an explosion.

The explosion happened several minutes since the fire started but had it not been for the loud sound, they would not know what was happening.

Arobo complained that there was no alarm or any form of warning that could have alerted them about what was happening.

Arobo is from Davao and her family is here since Thursday because she attended a seminar. She is a nursing graduate. She brought her family to Cebu also for a vacation.

They were supposed to go back to Davao this afternoon, but she said she might stay for a while to file a formal complaint to the management for putting their lives at risk during the incident.

Arobo’s family and four other kids including two senior citizens were the first rescued.

Arobo is thankful that firefighters were able to rescue them immediately.

QUICK RESPONSE

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said that he was satisfied with the short time that it took the fire bureau to get to the area.

He also commended the volunteers who helped in containing the fire and rescuing those trapped inside.

Firefighters however were not able to go inside at first for lack of enough breathing apparatus.

Rama said that there is also a need for ladders that may reach up higher than the 4th floor.

Cebu City Councilor Noel Wenceslao said the city government will acquire fire fighting gear since there are already enough fire trucks donated to the fire bureau.

Wenceslao said that the fire bureau must upgrade its equipment and gear because the city is becoming more sophisticated with many high rise buildings being constructed.

He added that there is a need to organize more volunteer groups who will respond during times of disasters.

Currently, Cebu has the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation, the Basak-Pardo Emergency Rescue, among others.

Rama has also ordered the management of the Robinson’s Place to take care of its employees and customers who were injured and brought to the hospital. – with Jessica Ann R. Pareja—/NLQ (FREEMAN)

AROBO BASAK-PARDO EMERGENCY RESCUE CEBU CEBU CITY COUNCILOR NOEL WENCESLAO CEBU CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT CEBU CITY FIRE MARSHAL ADERSON COMAR CEBU CITY MAYOR MICHAEL RAMA CEBU CITY POLICE OFFICE CEBU FILIPINO-CHINESE VOLUNTEER FIRE BRIGADE CEBU MIDTOWN HOTEL FIRE
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