(File photo)

Oil and grease that accumulated in the chimney of Ribshack at the SM City Puerto Princesa mall was the primary cause of fire in the restaurant last December 7, city fire marshal F/Supt. Nilo Caabay said.

Caabay stated that oil and grease from meat that are grilled at the restaurant stuck at the chimney over the years and has accumulated to more than an inch thick are considered as combustible materials and can thus, cause fire.

“Ang naging problema, yung chimney ng Ribshack, hindi na-maintain ng maayos. Ang characteristics kasi niyan (oil and grease), kapag na-expose sa init at na-reach yung temperature na required, nagiging flammable at kapag umapoy, mahirap nang pigilin,” Caabay explained.

“Actually, hindi lang Ribshack ang nagkaroon ng experience na ganyan. May iba pang malalaking hotel sa Puerto Princesa, hindi na natin isa-isahin pero naka-experience ng ganyan,” he said.

He, however, lauded the mall’s compliance and full observance to fire safety which led to the easy and quick response to the incident but added that such incidents cannot be totally prevented at all times.

“[Actually,] kasama yan sa nire-regulate (chimney maintenance), hindi ko lang alam kung paano dumating sa point na ganyan pero sabi ko nga, magsilbing aral. Ang isang malungkot kasi, yung chimney nakatago sa ceiling kaya anghirap siyang i-monitor, kaya nga from time to time, kailangan mag-check,” he said.

He added that while the outer parts of the chimney were clean, when the investigator checked the innermost part, it was where the dirt accumulated and where the fire started, explaining the thick black smoke that came out.

He also took note that except for electrical wirings no other components inside the restaurant were damaged by the fire.

“What was affected was the ceiling at the ground floor because of the water from the sprinklers,” he said.

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