GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A five-year-old girl died while a total of 123 families were left homeless after a huge fire hit a crowded seaside community here Tuesday dawn.
Rock Eliseo Garay, chair of Barangay Dadiangas South, said the fire broke out around 5 a.m. at a portion of Purok Islam along P. Acharon Boulevard which is located just across the city central public market.
Garay said a child of a market vendor identified only as Bainor died after being trapped inside their burning house.
He said an estimated 100 shanties were razed during the blaze which was declared under control over an hour later by firefighters from the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Citing accounts from community leaders and residents, Garay said the fire which started in one of the houses quickly spread as most the structures were mainly made of light materials.
Vendor Teng Putian, Bainor’s grandfather, said he and the victim’s father, Benjamin, left their house early for their usual spot at the nearby market.
He said Bainor was still sleeping at that time and her father was planning to return later in the morning to bring her to kindergarten school.
“Upon learning about the incident, we immediately rushed back but it was already too late,” he narrated in the vernacular.
Garay said the mosque in the area and several eateries situated near the main road were spared but all other structures towards the shoreline were gutted.
The site, which is beside the area that was also hit by a huge fire last December 28, is owned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Retirement and Separation Benefits System.
Fire Chief Insp. Reginald Legaste, city fire marshal, said the fire could have been triggered by overloaded electrical lines as a result of the illegal power connections in the area.
Legaste initially placed the damage to properties as a result of the incident at around PHP600,000.
Garay said most of the affected residents were workers and vendors at the public market and other nearby establishments.
“We initially provided the affected residents with food assistance and their profiling is ongoing for other possible interventions from the local government,” he said. Allen Estabillo / PNA – northboundasia.com