By: Dolly Yasa and Glazyl Y. Masculino
BACOLOD City – The owners of the house where a fire that razed more than 200 houses at Barangay 2 here last Monday are facing arson charges.
Police Captain Leo Estopa, head of Police Station 2, said yesterday they are waiting for the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to complete the documents needed for the filing of charges against Elbert Deo and his wife.
Estopa said witnesses told authorities that the couple was having an argument before the fire broke out past 3 a.m. Monday at the kitchen of their house.
Deo was being blamed by some residents for the fire, that’s why he was also allegedly mobbed.
Deo denied the allegations.
Although police conducted a separate investigation on the incident, the BFP will assist the complainants in filing cases against the couple.
Deo’s wife just surfaced on Tuesday after she left their house in the middle of the blaze.
Estopa said the couple is now detained at the police station.
Estopa said they will be released at 6 p.m. today if no case is filed against them after the reglementary detention period lapses.
A total of 224 houses were razed by the fire at the coastal area of the village.
It affected 242 families, which include 999 individuals, Pacita Tero, head of Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD) said.
The fire gobbled an estimated P500,000 worth of properties.
Meanwhile, the city government is appealing for help for the fire victims.
Tero said they need food, blankets, clothes, utensils, foams, pillows, folding beds, among others for the fire victims.
Some of the fire victims are temporarily sheltered at Andres Bonifacio Elementary School (ABES)-II.
Tero said they can stay at the evacuation center for 10 days but they can also move to a relocation site for as long as they can comply with the necessary requirements.
Meanwhile, an estimated P5 million worth of goods were destroyed in another fire that struck SM Hypermart grocery store at Barangay Handumanan here also on Monday.
Fire Chief Inspector Publio Ploteña, BFP-Bacolod City chief, said the grocery store was razed to the ground.
Ploteña said the fire erupted at around 1 a.m., and it took at least two hours to control the blaze.
The fire was totally quelled 22 hours after.
When asked as to why it took a long time for fire-fighters to contain the blaze, Ploteña said they were forced to respond to the fire at Barangay 2 due to a “huge threat” to human life.
He said that after suppressing the fire in Barangay 2, they immediately returned to Handumanan and resumed their fire-fighting operations in the grocery establishment.
Ploteña said the smoke from the establishment hampered their movement aside from the large quantity of plastic wares, and carton boxes, which fuelled the blaze.
As to the cause of the fire, Ploteña said it is still being investigated, although earlier reports indicated that an overheated air-conditioning unit may have caused it.