MANILA, Philippines — A stretch of street near New Divisoria Mall in Manila turned into a sea of apples and oranges as a 10-hour fire hit three commercial buildings a day before Christmas.
Boxes of fruits on M. de Santos Street tumbled as people scrambled when firecrackers set on fire the 801 Building at the corner of Tabora Street at 12:33 a.m., police who secured the scene said.
Initial reports showed that a faulty wire or a cigarette butt might have set off the boxes of firecrackers piled at the side of the building, said Chief Insprctor Romeo Odrada, deputy chief of Binondo police station.
The fire that reached the fifth alarm at 12:56 a.m. and Task Force Charlie alarm by 5:45 a.m. spread to Ongsiako and Sun Master commercial buildings along Tabora and was declared under control at 10:09 a.m.
The buildings, which housed Asia United Bank and PSBank, also served as stockrooms and stores for toys, school supplies and party needs.
The fire also damaged the signage of Philtrust Bank across Tabora Street but it was quickly put out.
The estimated cost of damage was not available as of press time but police said the fruits alone would cost millions of pesos.
Radio reports said at least three people were injured.
“Masaklap nga ang nangyari eh. Paskong-pasko imbes na magsaya eh malungkot (It was terrible. It’s Christmas but instead of happiness, we have sadness),” Magdalena Sigayo, a sidewalk vendor who lost P300,000 worth of native decorative products, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.