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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, April 25, 2013
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Fire guts 234 houses
Blaze spares small chapel

Fire hit 234 houses in puroks Katilingban and Kawayan, Brgy. Banago, Bacolod City, yesterday, leaving P3 million in damages, Chief Insp. Bartolome Beliran, Bacolod fire marshal said.

Out of 234 houses, mostly made of light materials, Beliran said, 94 were destroyed and the rest were damaged. No casualties or injuries were reported, he added.

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said this is one of the biggest fire incidents in the city in so many years, and one factor could be the very hot weather.

He said that, because of the election ban, all donations for the fire victims will be coursed through the Philippine Red Cross, while the Department of Social Services and Development will be in charge of distributing food assistance to them.

Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, who went to the area, said the city will give P5,000 to those whose houses were destroyed, while P3,000 will be provided to those whose homes were damaged.

Sayson said, the victims are now staying at the classrooms of the Domingo Lacson National High School.

Initial investigation showed that the fire originated at the house of a certain Estella Barros in Zone 2, Purok Katilingban, who residents claim, is mentally unstable, and spread to the nearby houses.

As of press time last night, Beliran said they were still investigating the whereabouts of Barros, who, they said, was still missing. A mapping has been done in the area but no remains were found.

Beliran said it took them more than an hour before they were able to put the fire out because of the narrow pathway and concrete fences, while some residents tried to interfere in their work while trying to save their houses.

As to the names of the victims, Beliran said, the City’s Fire Bureau is still coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to finalize the names.

Sally Abelarde, City Social Welfare and Development head, said that 112 families sought shelter at the Domingo Lacson National High School after the blaze.

A resident, Anamay Arellano, 30, of Purok Katilingban told the DAILY STAR that when she saw the thick black smoke in the northern part of their purok, she hurriedly went outside their house but she was not able to save many of her things.

Beliran said, they received the fire call informing them that several houses in Brgy. Banago were on fire at about 12:08.

Eight fire trucks from the City's Fire Bureau were dispatched to the area and were assisted by those of the Amity and the Chinese Chamber fire volunteers, Beliran said.

He said firefighters equipment were also sent by cities of Talisay, Silay, Victorias and Bago and more fire trucks were also sent by E.B. Magalona and Murcia Towns.

Meanwhile, Lumaya Ka secretary general Ben Sollilapsi said Abang Lingkod immediately sent its team to distribute arroz caldo and 130 packs of rice to about 300 victims.*SGG

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