Manila fire: 1K families homeless, jailbirds moved, ‘Recto U’ shops damaged
AT LEAST six people were injured, over a thousand families lost their homes and some 500 female jail inmates were moved out of harm’s way when a Manila shantytown went up in flames Friday morning.
The fire believed to be caused by leaking LPG tank razed a slum area sandwiched between decrepit buildings and an elevated train line in Barangay 310 in Sta. Cruz, starting at 9:40 a.m. and reaching general alarm. Up to 80 firetrucks and an Air Force chopper had been deployed before the fire was declared under control six hours later.
About 500 handcuffed female detainees at the nearby Manila City Jail were moved out of their cells to a chapel within the jail compound, as towering flames from the burning homes licked the jail’s exterior walls, according to Senior Supt. Carolina Borrinaga of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
The city fire marshal, Supt. Jaime Ramirez, said the fire also damaged structures in an area notoriously known as “Recto University,” where shops that offer “instant” term papers for college students, fake diplomas and other documents are known to thrive.
Another group of detainees, at the Manila Police District’s Sta. Cruz station, was also transferred to the Alvarez precinct.
About 1,000 displace families were given shelter at a multipurpose hall on Recto Avenue, where they are likely to spend Christmas.
Ramirez said the fire started at the shanty of Ronnie Llanere, who was about to cook breakfast when his LPG stove set off flames that quickly engulfed the house. Damage was estimated at P5 million.
The injured residents mostly suffered cuts and bruises as they rushed out of their homes in panic. A firefighter, SFO4 Arnel Mallari of the Tondo substation, suffered facial burns, according to Chief Insp. Arvin Rex Affala of the Bureau of Fire Protection-Manila.
As the Manila inferno raged, another fire broke out in an office building in Quezon City.
Supt. Jesus Fernandez, Quezon City fire marshal, said the fire at Aurora Tower in Cubao started at around 10 a.m. at the power room on the 14th floor. It reached the fifth alarm before responding teams declared the fire out two hours later.
The building, owned by Araneta Center Corp., includes the Embassy of the Republic of Colombia among its occupants. With reports from Erika Sauler