P500M lost in Lanao Norte fire

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Monday, July 14, 2014

KOLAMBUGAN, Lanao del Norte -- The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) here initially placed damages of Findlay Millar Timber Company (FMTC) conflagration last week at P500 million, Inspector Rommel Villafuerte, provincial fire marshall, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in an interview over the weekend.

Villafuerte said the fire started around 6:30 p.m. of July 10 and the firemen declared fire-out around 4 a.m. of July 11. Seven firefighting groups from the municipalities of Kapatagan, Lala, Baroy, Tubod, Bacolod, Kolambugan and one from Iligan City responded to the distress call.

“With the level of the cost of damage, the BFP higher authority will take the lead to investigate the fire incident,” he said.

Fire hits timber company building in Lanao del Norte
LANAO DEL NORTE. The Bureau of Fire and Protection in Lanao del Norte pegs Findlay Millar Timber Company fire damage at P500 Million in Kolambugan town. The conflagration razed the veneer production building of the timber company on July 10. (Richel V. Umel)


Villafuerte said one employee identified as Leonardo Corcega, 60 years old, was reported missing.

However, Margarito Jaque, general manager of FMTC, confirmed Saturday morning (July 12) that Corcega’s body was found by the search and retrieval team floating in the log pond with minor burns on his body.

“Corcega had hypertension. Based on witness account from one of the employees, at the height of fire that razed most of the production building to the ground, Corcega managed to get out of the building but went back to retrieve his P20,000 he left in his drawer,” Jaque said.

He added the company extended P30,000 financial assistance to the immediate family aside from the wake and burial expenses.

The FMTC has 300 employees who are now rendered jobless after the fire.

Jaque said: “At present, the FMTC is owned and operated by a Chinese investor and it produced veneer materials for plywood production. The veneer products were brought to its sister company, Top Forest Incorporated, in one of the towns in Misamis Oriental province which also produces refined plywood products for local and export purposes.”

Timber company building in Lanao del Norte razed by fire
LANAO DEL NORTE. This man looks on the production building of Findlay Millar Timber Company that was razed by fire on July 10, 2014. (Richel V. Umel)

The BFP is looking into a faulty electrical wiring that could have caused the fire, but it is not discounting arson.

Jaque said the fire started in the sander area where veneer products pass the refinement stage.

Brief history

When two Americans put up Kolambugan Lumber and Development Company on June 12, 1912, a lot of people came to the town for the job opportunities.

Later, KLDC changed its name into Findlay Millar Timber Company on June 15, 1915.

Jaque said the FMTC would celebrate its centennial on June 15, 2015.

The management is determined to rehabilitate the company in the next 10 years after the fire gutted the production area.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 14, 2014.

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