Zamboanga City fire razes 600 houses
Roel Pareño (Philstar.com) - June 22, 2016 - 3:21pm
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines -- A big fire that reached disaster levels razed around 600 houses and leveled an informal settler village in this city on Tuesday night.
 
Officials said at least five people were also injured when the fire broke out at Kasulutan drive in Barangay Sta. Catalina early Tuesday evening.
 
Fire Chief Inspector Clint Cha, city fire chief, said a general alarm was immediately raised as the raging fire quickly spread to other blocks and affected portion of adjacent Barangay Tetuan.
 
Cha said the Bureau of Fire Protection was reinforced by volunteer fire departments and by the military but to no avail.
 
“We couldn't sustain [fire] suppression because the tankers cannot go inside due to narrow roads,” Cha said.
 
Barangay Sta. Catalina Chairman Jimmy Villaflores said affected residents could barely salvage their personal belongings as the fire broke out while most of them were in the mosque for the ‘pagbuka’ or breaking the fast in observance of Ramadan.
 
“They were not able to carry anything because most of them were in the mosque and the fire was really raging... spreading wildly through all directions because of the air,” Villaflores said.
 
Villaflores said the damaged houses were made of light to semi-concrete materials.
 
He said his village had barely recovered from the 2013 siege that devastated a vast section of the barangay.
 
Dr. Elmeir Apolinario, chief of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, said the four-hour fire also affected part of Barangay Tetuan, raising the incident to the category of a disaster.
 
Hundreds of families were temporarily housed in three covered courts converted into evacuation camps. The city social welfare office initially counted 400 families in the sites and were listing hundreds more affected families.
 
The social welfare office also extended relief for the affected residents.
 
Cha said more than 600 houses were razed. The fire caused an estimated P4.5 million in damage. He said they have yet to determine the origin of the fire.

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