Some 77 houses were destroyed in a fire that engulfed a densely populated coastal community in Barangays Maunlad and Bagong Sikat in Puerto Princesa Wednesday afternoon.
City fire officials indicated that it began mid-afternoon and was believed to be caused by an accident, but spread quickly on the neighborhood composed mainly of houses built from light materials.
Local officials said 43 families in the two barangays have been displaced, while the fire department placed the initial damage estimate at only P350,000.
“Tataas pa yan (damage claim) kapag naka-submit na sila (fire victims) ng affidavits (of loss),” a fire official told Palawan News on Thursday.
City Fire Marshal Nilo Caabay Jr. said the fire was already spreading when they arrived at the scene within 10 minutes after they received a report.
“Pagdating ng responders natin malaki na talaga ang problema kasi tanaw na talaga sa langit ‘yong lawak ng problema,” Caabay said.
According to some residents, the fire started on the second floor of a two-storey house where it quickly spread to the other households because most of the houses were made of light materials.
“Doon nagsimula sa isang bahay sa gitna, mabilis kumalat yong apoy kasi yong mga bahay gawa sa light materials,” a local resident said.
The affected households are temporarily staying at their respective barangay covered gymnasiums.
Bagong Sikat barangay captain Alberto Alib said they will be coordinating with the city government for a possible relocation of the displaced families.
“Lubusin ko na ito na sana sa area namin, talagang napakahirap, bigyan na sana kami ni Mayor [Lucilo Bayron] ng aming relocation para kaming nasa barangay na nasa critical area ay maayos na rin at mailagay sa magandang area, kailangan na siguro namin ng relocation,” he said.
City information officer Richard Ligad told Palawan News that they are waiting for the reports about the affected families affected.
“Yong ating mga taga-CDRRMO (City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office), at tayo ay mag-aantay din sa official na report ng ating City Fire, at ang bilang din kung ilan talaga ang mga kabahayan na nasunog sa bawat barangay,” Ligad said.