Traffic blamed for slow response in Oro fire

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

THE Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) blamed the traffic congestion for arriving late to put out the fire in Pimentel Street corner Lapasan highway Monday afternoon.

“It took a while for the fire trucks to reach the area because of the severe traffic condition; it’s the major contributor to the problem. Making it worst were the vehicles would not even give way for our trucks to get through. We coordinated with our team and even used other routes such as Yacapin and Osmeña streets but the traffic was also worst there,” said Fire Officer 1 Joel Ejoc, Lapasan fire station chief and investigator.

According to a Lapasan volunteer firefighter, who asked not to be named, that Lapasan was not able to send its fire truck because it was in the shop for much needed repairs.


Nong Rick, 82, who works in a barbershop near the Pimentel residence, said they first only saw billows of smoke that later became “a big fire.”

Not long after, a hardware store called for the fire department, he said.

Lapasan councilor Alberto Poquita said that only the Pimentel couple, who are both of senior age, were living in the house and that Sherlita was in her sister-in-law’s house, which was just beside the burned house, when the fire started.

Roldan Pimentel who had just finished the renovation of his house two months ago complained of the slow response of the firefighters.

“My house was blazing for almost more than an hour before the fire trucks first arrived. It’s so sad to see my house burned together with parts of my fabrication shop but there is nothing much we can do, if only the firefighters arrived here faster,” said Pimentel.

People living in the area also confirmed the claim of Pimentel.

“It was frightening since the fire engulfed the house so fast and we were afraid that it might spread toward other houses including our own because the fire fighters were not yet here,” said Julius, a resident in the area.

Sherlita Pimentel, Roldan’s sister-in-law, who lost her entire house in the fire, was in disbelief.

“I wasn’t at home when the fire happened, I was on the other house to watch over my niece but I think it started in the kitchen since it’s where the majority of the fire and smoke came from. Roldan’s kitchen and ours are situated in a very close proximity; I can’t really tell where the fire started,” she said.

When she learned of the fire, she tried to save some of their property but was not able to get inside the house.

“Dili na kasulod kay dako ang kalayo. Nagbuto-buto na man (I could not enter as the fire spread quickly. There were explosions too),” she said.

Lawyer Edgardo Uy, Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA) overseer, said that he was not really aware of the fire until they got a call of congestion along Osmeña street in Cogon and other parts of the city.

“I think the traffic was caused by the fire since motorist would immediately try to avoid the area where the fire causing congestion in other areas. I still need to confirm these details with our personnel in the field to evaluate it,” he said.
The personnel of the BFP and fire volunteers immediately controlled the fire by 3:20 p.m. and declared a “fire out” by 3:50 in the afternoon, with the initial assessment on the cost of damage at 200,000 pesos.

The BFP has yet to issue the cause of fire as investigation is still underway.

Among those who reported to the scene were the CDO Volunteer Fire Brigade, Chinese volunteers, fire trucks from Graphic, Gaisano Mall, and Lim Ket Kai, Cogon Fire Station, and an emergency medical team.

The fire that started at around 2 p.m. which immediately consumed a house and severely burned another and a fabrication shop.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 22, 2014.

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