GENERAL SANTOS CITY (PNA) — At least 39 families lost their homes in a huge fire on Tuesday night in a crowded residential community in Koronadal City.
Sr. Insp. Reginald Legaste, Koronadal City fire marshal, said the fire broke out at around 7:50 p.m. Tuesday in one of the houses in Block 2 of Casa Subdivision in Purok Maria Casa, Barangay Zone 3.
Citing accounts from residents, he said it reportedly originated from a house owned by Melanie Aguasito and rapidly spread to 20 other adjacent houses that are mostly made of light materials.
“We’re looking into reports that an unattended candle or gas lamp might have caused the fire,” Legaste told reporters.
The official said one of the households could have used either candle or gas lamp after its electricity was cut off on Tuesday morning.
The concerned household had a “series” or illegal power connection and it was “unplugged” by the owner of the house where it was connected, he said.
Legaste said their investigators are also determining the possible links of the incident to an alleged conflict among residents there.
He said they received reports that there was a prior heated argument between still unidentified persons at the house where the fire started.
There were also speculations from local residents that the house where the fire was believed to have originated doubled as a drug den and an unattended candle used during a “pot session” triggered the incident.
“We still have to verify that but we’re looking at all possible angles right now,” Legaste said.
He placed the initial damage from the incident, which was declared under control after nearly four hours, at P500,000.
Bert Hinay, Barangay Zone 3 chair, said they initially provided the affected residents with food items, beddings and other relief goods.
He said some of the victims are currently taking temporary shelter at the Zone 3 Barangay Hall compound while others opted to stay with their relatives situated near the area.
The city government, on orders from City Mayor Peter Miguel, also provided additional relief items to the victims.
Hinay said the mayor, who rushed to the scene at the height of the fire, directed the City Social Welfare and Development Office to determine the other needs of the affected families, including shelter assistance.
On Wednesday morning, personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region 12 also released relief assistance to the victims.