Sunday, September 10, 2006
OVER 50 houses were destroyed and no less than P5 million in property went up in smoke when a fire broke out in an urban barangay shortly after 9 am here yesterday.
It all started with an argument, said investigators, quoting witnesses.
Authorities are looking for Taroy Saluaga, 43, because witnesses said he threw a gas stove at his brother at the height of a fight.
Investigators said the gas stove may have caused the fire that struck the thickly populated community in Barangay 15, between Kalambaguhan and Burgos, this city.
Cagayan de Oro fire marshall Oscar Abecia said the fire razed to the ground over 50 houses and other establishments. At least 200 families were left homeless.
Badly hit areas were the interior areas of Makahambus, Kalambaguhan, Burgos and Capistrano streets.
A woman, Irene Miranda, was hurt when the 25-year-old jumped from the 2nd level of a burning house.
A two-door apartment owned by ex-vice mayor Antonio Soriano was destroyed.
Fe Licayan, a witness, said she saw the Saluaga brothers exchanging blows. Shortly after, she said she heard an explosion and then the fire spread.
Others said the fire started from the house of Joaquin Saluaga.
Abecia ordered arson investigators to dig deeper and see if the Saluaga brothers were really responsible. He said the local fire bureau would press charges if a case is established against the Saluagas.
"We are still verifying the reports. But this early, it really looks like an arson case based on what residents are saying," Abecia said.
It took more than two hours for firefighters to extinguish the fire. Abecia said the absence of protective gears such as gas masks made it difficult for firefighters to contain the fire that quickly spread because the houses were mostly made of wood.
Abecia said firefighters could not penetrate because of the absence of a pathway.
Curious onlookers and affected residents also gave firefighters a difficult time because it took time before they cleared the streets.
The fire alarm reached 4th level, prompting fire volunteers from private companies and from M
Misamis Oriental towns to respond.