Ammo blasts slow down firefighters in Caloocan police HQ blaze
A fire gutted about half of the office spaces of the Caloocan police headquarters on Tuesday morning, forcing the evacuation of over a hundred detainees and destroying a sizeable volume of crime records and evidence.
The blaze, which started around 4:30 a.m., raged for about 90 minutes despite the building practically being a next-door neighbor of the fire station in Barangay Sangandaan.
“We had to consider the safety of our firefighters because there were several explosions during the fire caused by ammunition going off,” said FO3 Alwin Culianan, one of the investigators from the Bureau of Fire Protection, when asked why it took that long to put out the fire. “The (police) station was a very old building and made of wood and light materials.”
The investigation has so far not noted any sign of arson, Culianan added.
The fire left an estimated P1 million in structural damage, excluding destroyed property like office equipment and vehicles.
The cause remained under investigation, although a witness reported seeing the fire start at the press corps office on the ground floor of the two story building.
Vilma dela Vega, a helper at that office, said she was in the toilet when she heard a loud explosion.
“When I came out, I saw flames licking the ceiling and the roof began to collapse almost immediately,” she said.
The fire quickly spread to the nearby Scene of the Crime Operations (Soco) office, where guns and ammunition serving as evidence in criminal cases were stored. It also reached the investigation unit where records of hundreds of cases were kept, including those of drug suspects recently killed by unidentified gunmen.
But Senior Supt. Jemar Modequillo, the city police chief, said the fire would not affect ongoing investigations as copies of major case files were regularly submitted to the Northern Police District.
No serious injuries were reported and all of the station’s 102 detainees were immediately moved to the Police Communiy Precinct 1 in Bagong Barrio, Modequillo added.
The affected offices are expected to be given temporary space at the station’s multipurpose hall.
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