Inset photo shows black smoke billowing out of the rooftop of SM City Puerto Princesa. Main photo shows firefighters outside the mall after fire out was declared.

Shoppers and employees at SM City Puerto Princesa had to be evacuated after a fire at Ribshack caused thick smoke to spread throughout the Upper Ground Floor of the mall on Wednesday afternoon.

Black smoke was seen rising from the rooftop of the mall at the height of the fire.

The city fire department, however, described the situation as a “minor fire incident” and said they are investigating its cause.

“Nag-create ng makapal na usok yong sunog. So far, wala na. Hindi naman siya kalakihan, kaya lang dahil confined space, [yon] ang nagpabagal ng operation—kanina halos zero visibility—dahil confined space,” Puerto Princesa Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) chief Maj. Nilo Caabay told Palawan News at the scene.

“Pero sa apoy, maliit lang ang apoy. Yon lang yong makapal na usok, mahirap i-identify kung saan yong naging source ng sunog,” he added.

Employees at the mall, he said, reacted quickly to the emergency and served as first responders.

Sprinkler heads also discharged water when the effects of the fire were detected.

The fire did not cause any injuries, he added.

“Pagdating sa SM, makapal yung usok, pero under control na rin dahil mabilis ang naging pagresponde ng fire brigade ng SM. And nag-activate din yung sprinkler heads. Actually, upon arrival namin, fire out na kaya ginawa na lang namin ay nag-verify na lang at siniguro namin na wala na talagang apoy,” he said.

“Maganda at mabilis ang naging action ng organized fire brigade ng SM,” Caabay added.

Caabay explained that there are two potential causes for the fire: a fault in the electrical system, and the chimney itself. However, he reiterated they are still investigating.

The owner or management of the restaurant has yet to submit an affidavit of loss, but the BFP estimates the damage to Ribshack to be between P500,000 and P1 million.

The SM City Puerto Princesa, in an issued statement, said: “following standard procedures, our Emergency Response Team evacuated customers, tenants, and employees for their safety.”

The management said a joint investigation with BFP is ongoing.

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covers the police beat and other law enforcement agencies in the province. Her interest includes traveling and photography.