Fire destroys hundreds of houses in GenSan coastal community

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Hundreds of houses and other structures were gutted down in a huge fire that hit a crowded coastal community here on Wednesday afternoon.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said there were no casualties reported as a result of the fire, which started around 1 p.m. and rapidly spread to the four residential zones of Purok Saeg in Barangay Calumpang.

Citing accounts from residents and barangay officials, he said it reportedly started in one of the houses in the area that are mostly made of light materials.

“There were reports that someone was cooking before it happened as it was around lunchtime then but we’re still validating that,” the mayor told reporters.

He said a child was initially reported missing but was eventually found safe by one of the barangay social workers.

The Bureau of Fire Protection declared the fire, which reached fifth alarm, as under control around 4 p.m. but “mapping operations” are still ongoing as of 5 p.m. to totally extinguish portions that are still burning.

Barangay officials placed the affected houses at 500, although the mayor said he received different reports ranging from 300 to 600.

City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr. estimated the damaged houses at “less than 200.”

Rivera said they have mobilized the city’s social workers and other responders to attend to the immediate needs of the affected residents, who were initially brought to the Barangay Calumpang gymnasium.

He said they have prepared the gymnasiums in the neighboring barangays to accommodate the other fire victims.

“We’re doing everything to provide the needs of the affected residents,” he said.

Ryan Dupalco, Calumpang barangay chairman, said they provided vehicles to ferry the victims to the barangay gymnasium.

“We're working double-time to validate the number of affected households and individuals,” he said.

Dupalco said he will convene the barangay council in a special session to facilitate the immediate release of their calamity funds to assist the concerned residents.

He said the affected area, which was estimated at over a hectare, is one of the most populated communities in their barangay.

It covered portions of Zones 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Saeg and within a private property that has a pending ownership dispute. (PNA)


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