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Fire out at Ever Gotesco mall, but questions linger

Fire fighters in action at the Ever Gotesco mall. MIKE GUBAT, INTERAKSYON.COM
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines – Fire that raged for two days at the Ever Gotesco mall in Monumento, Caloocan City was finally put under control on Sunday, but local officials are pushing a full inquiry.

Caloocan Mayor Recom Echiverri said that while the fire has been put out, the rerouting of traffic at the 10th Avenue and Monumento area would likely remain till Monday to allow debris to be cleared, and for officials to inspect the site.

Traffic was rerouted earlier owing to fears of officials there might be explosions from the building, a multipurpose mall that housed an estimated 400 businesses.

Echiverri said in a TV interview the damage was initially estimated at P1 billion, but this will likely rise. At least 16 people were reported hurt.

Local executives are also pushing an inquiry in order to answer “many questions,” according to the mayor. “We’d like to make an assessment on how it happened; who caused the fire, who allowed fire to spread to uncontrollable levels, was there liability of building officials; were the equipment of fire fighters adequate?”

Echieverri also wanted to know how many were actually affected, especially the displaced workers for whom, he announced, City Hall has a program to offer free rice and other relief goods.

Addressing questions that response by firefighters was delayed because mall guards denied them entry, the mayor said that was the initial report that reached them, but added that as far as he knew, the guards eventually let them in.

Meanwhile, LRT operations, which were disrupted during the fire when thick smoke enveloped the Monumento station, is back to normal.

Another fire

In Barangay Holy Spirit, dozens of families lost their homes on Sunday in a fire that started at the ground floor of the home of one Rudy Tabirao.

Tabirao and another unidentified person were hurt, but no one died. Tabirao was hurt when he tried to go back inside the burning house to retrieve the nebulizer of his asthmatic child.

The family is pleading for a donation of a nebulizer for the child, who has asthma attacks daily.