3 more gas leak fire victims die; death toll now 7
“I could have saved myself. But if I had done that, more people would have died. That would be on my conscience, little sister.”
This was the last conversation Jeffre Eugenio had with his youngest sister Jhen from his hospital bed at The Medical City. It was his response when she told him: “You should have saved yourself.”
The officer in charge of the LPG Marketers’ Association (LPGMA) fire department and an employee of Omni Gas Corp., Eugenio died around noon on Monday. He had sustained massive burns on his hands, legs and face while saving around five to eight employees of the Omni-owned Regasco liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) refilling station which was hit by a fire on Jan. 11. Omni and the refilling station are both owned by the LPGMA partylist group and the family of LPGMA Rep. Arnel Ty.
The two-hour blaze caused by a gas leak left 21 injured, all but one of them workers of the gas station located on Sandoval Avenue in Pasig City. Since then, seven of the more critically hurt have died, including Eugenio, after they suffered 80 to 98 percent partial thickness burns.
Eugenio’s wife who works in Singapore flew home on Tuesday when she learned of his death. While crying in front of his coffin at Funeraria Quiogue, she told a relative, “I told you to look after him. He’s gone now.”
The couple’s three children—the youngest just 2 years old—were expected to arrive from Iloilo anytime, his brother JR told the Inquirer on Tuesday.
Three other LPGMA fire volunteers, Joel Eda, 28, died at 7 a.m. Tuesday at Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center while Alejandro Conrad, 42, passed away at 5 p.m. Monday at East Avenue Medical Center. The third, William Khay, 39, died last Wednesday at Philippine General Hospital.
The other fatalities were gas station workers Romeo Eugenio, 35; Camilo Alcaraz Jr., 18; and Jectopher Caoili, 21. They all passed away at Quirino Memorial Medical Center.
JR, who also works for Omni, said that the fire was an accident. It was already contained when someone unexpectedly turned on the circuit breaker, causing an explosion.
An investigation is still ongoing with the Bureau of Fire Protection looking into all angles, including “improper maintenance,” according to BFP-Pasig City fire investigation head, Chief Insp. Anthony Arroyo. Six of the injured remain in critical condition at different hospitals, he added.