Fire breaks out in slum community in QC; 15 hurt | Inquirer News

Fire breaks out in slum community in QC; 15 hurt

/ 12:34 AM April 12, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—When fire broke out in a community of informal settlers on Monday in Quezon City, Lolita Laurente, a laundry woman, was busy folding clothes.

She immediately stopped what she was doing, grabbed her 10-month-old granddaughter Princess Legaspi and ran out of their house.

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“She’s all that I was able to save,” Laurente told the Inquirer in Filipino.

The Laurentes were among the more than 90 families who lost their homes in the fire that hit a slum area on BIR Road in Diliman, Quezon City, just beside the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas office.

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According to an initial investigation, it started at 10:37 a.m. in an eatery on the ground floor of a two-story house occupied by Marites Balbon and Analiza de la Cruz.

The cause was still being determined although the damage to property was estimated at around P3 million.

“This isn’t the first time a fire this big hit this area. Only recently, a bigger fire that reached the general alarm level razed shanties on the other side of this road,” Chief Inspector Glen de la Cruz, Station 4 commander of the Quezon City Fire Department, told the Inquirer.

Red Cross coordinator Alvin Ustare said that around 15 people were injured, including Insp. Rodelio Bernabe, substation commander of the Agham Central Fire Station who suffered first degree burns. Two more people also sustained burns while the rest complained of minor injuries.

“But the injuries could go higher depending on the final results of our accounting of the affected,” Ustare said.

The fire was put out at 11:30 a.m. but not before it reached Task Force Bravo and destroyed around 30 houses.

As the blaze raged, residents stood beside their belongings to protect these from looters.

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“My DVD component and television set have been stolen by heartless people,” Mila Amaden, one of the residents, told the Inquirer.

For her part, Gilda Lo, 45, was grateful that she and her three children were safe.

“Thank God, we are alive,” she said.

Before the fire, the Inquirer learned that there had been a series of dialogues and consultations between city government officials and BIR Road residents for their possible relocation to Gaya-Gaya, Bulacan.

Social welfare officials were expected to visit the area to determine the type of assistance needed by the victims.

Senior Superintendent Bobby Baruelo, city fire marshal, said the fire spread quickly because most of the houses in the area were made of light materials.

“We went unharmed and so did those I knew,” said Noel Gonida who stood from across the street with his baby daughter in the arms.

Behind him were stacks of electric fans, washing machines and dogs frolicking on a stack of clothes. Gonida was among those who were able to save some of their things.

Others like Lean Almaden were not as fortunate.

“I need to buy something first before my child gets hungry,” she said.—With Julie M. Aurelio and Hans Joshua Dantes

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TAGS: Fire, Homelessness, Philippines - Metro
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