LPG depot in Batangas still burning
Authorities might take a couple of days to put out the fire that hit a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage facility in Calaca town in Batangas province on Saturday afternoon.
The municipal government declared a state of emergency hours after the fire broke out inside the compound of Phoenix Petroterminals & Industrial Park Corp. (PPIPC) in Barangay Salong, Calaca.
The LPG depot is owned by South Pacific Inc., a locator inside the 94-hectare PPIPC, said Calaca Mayor Sofronio Manuel Ona. He corrected earlier reports that the facility’s owner was PPIPC.
The fire started around 4 p.m. and quickly grew bigger, prompting Bureau of Fire Protection authorities to declare a general alarm. This status meant that firefighters from all provinces in the Southern Tagalog region were called to help contain the fire.
Efforts to put out the fire continued on Sunday noon. Ona said it might take two to three more days for the LPG supply tanks in the area to burn up completely.
Ona could not immediately say how much LPG was stored inside. He said company owners were already acting to stop the fire.
“The fire is contained [within the industrial complex] but residents living about half a kilometer [away from the depot] voluntarily evacuated … the fire really looked scary,” he said on Sunday.
Vicente Tomazar, director of the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), said company personnel were reportedly loading LPG supply on Saturday when the fire broke out.
Tomazar did not provide details on how the fire started. “What we are sure of right now is that the fire started inside [the facility] itself,” Ona said.
The Inquirer on Sunday tried to get reactions from South Pacific Inc. The company and PPIPC have yet to issue statements, said Crenen Maala, PPIPC port engineer, in a telephone interview.
Maala said other locators inside the compound had stopped operations after the fire broke out.
At least 47 fire trucks, some coming from as far as Metro Manila, were sent to Calaca, Ona said. The Philippine Red Cross also sent industrial fire extinguishers, he said.
FO1 Ferdinand Villanueva of the Calaca fire bureau said investigators noted at least five successive explosions on Saturday night.
Some 115 families, or about 500 people, left their homes and sought shelter in four elementary schools in Calaca.
Two employees at the LPG depot, identified as Mark Anthony Dochosa and Almer Nuevo, suffered minor injuries during the fire, reports from the RDRRMC said.
In Batangas City, another fire razed 40 houses in Barangay Sta. Clara early Sunday, killing a 2-year-old boy, police said.
The victim, Arjay Mendoza Bajar, was asleep when their house caught fire at 2:30 a.m., said Supt. Danilo Mendoza, city police chief.
Mendoza said it was not immediately known where Bajar’s parents were when the fire broke out. He said the boy failed to get out of the house.
Mendoza said investigators believed the fire started from a lit mosquito coil that was left unattended.
The fire was put out at 4 a.m. but destroyed 40 houses and damaged four, police said.
A total of 177 people who lost their homes evacuated to Santa Clara Elementary School in their village.
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