Firefighters rush to save homes from the fire in Quito area on March 8. | Photo by Mike Mopal

A fire that broke out at noon on Wednesday in three adjacent barangays in the city fully burned 15 residences and partially destroyed three others. 

It struck at 1:49 p.m., affecting Mabuhay, Pagkakaisa, and Masigla along the bay, causing many residents to flee into the streets in panic and others to scramble frantically to save their valuables.

Fire vehicles, including those from auxiliary forces, hurried to the scene as soon as the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Puerto Princesa received the initial alarm, said city fire marshal F/Supt. Nilo Caabay.

He said 11 houses were destroyed to the ground in Brgy. Mabuhay, one totally and one partially damaged in Masigla, and three were totally burned and 2 partially in Pagkakaisa.

Thick gray smoke is visible rising from the area where the fire is thought to have begun. | Photo by Mike Mopal

The fire displaced 37 families, or 125 residents, including five boarders/sharers, homeless: 25 families in Mabuhay, five in Pagkakaisa, and seven in Masigla.

Caabay explained that most of the homes were made of light materials, and the weather condition yesterday was hot and windy, thus the fire spread quickly despite their speedy response.

According to him, they received the first alarm at 12:49 p.m., and the first responder arrived at the fire scene four minutes later.

“Hindi biro yung sitwasyon ngayon na mainit na ang panahon, mahangin pa, kaya mabilis nag-spread ang apoy. Medyo nahirapan tayo kasi tatlong side yung kailangang respondehan—yung magkabilang dulo ng kalsada (Reynoso Street) at itong sa kabila (B. Mendoza Street) kung saan tumawid yung apoy,” Caabay said.

“But the good thing is that we have a lot of volunteer auxiliary forces who came in to help,” he added.

The fire was declared under control at 2:30 p.m. and completely out at 4:40 p.m., according to FO1 Mark Llacuna.

He added that the initial estimated cost of damage was around P630,000.

“That’s our assessment based on standard operating procedure per square meter,” Llacuna said.

He said investigators will go back to the area today, March 9, to determine the cause and origin of the fire.

He further stated that, despite the fact that the fire was declared completely out late in the afternoon, firefighters remained on the scene until 2:00 a.m. today at the request of homeowners who were concerned that the fire would reignite.

The incident was the fourth in March and the 12th overall since January, however, only three are considered major, including one in Brgy. Mandaragat last January and one in Brgy. San Miguel in February.

Most of the affected families are now temporarily staying with their relatives while there are two families at the barangay action center in Mabuhay and three families in Pagkakaisa barangay hall, according to the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).