Victims of the fire that razed squatter houses in Parola Compound in Tondo, Manila, which left 3,000 families homeless, heaved a sigh of relief as the city government led by Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada immediately came to their aid and provided their basic needs.
“I have ordered all the service-oriented departments of the city to help the victims of the fire. We will provide them with construction materials and conduct ‘bayanihan’, led by the city engineering department, in fixing houses that were destroyed. You know the residents of Tondo are close to me because of their support since I was still an actor,” Estrada said.
The mayor assured the city government will provide whatever the fire victims need to rebuild their homes and start their lives again.
“We have to assure that they are in a better situation now and their basic needs are given,” he added.
The massive fire started around 9:38 p.m. at the house of a certain “Andang” in Area B, Gate 7, in Parola, fire investigators said.
Senior Superintendent Wilberto Tiu, chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection-National Capital Region, said the fire quickly spread to adjoining shanties. It destroyed 1,200 houses and P6 million worth of properties before being put out at 7:24 a.m. on Wednesday, Tiu said.
Estrada mobilized the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Manila Department of Social Welfare, and Manila Health Department to ensure the prompt evacuation of the victims and the treatment of the injured.
He personally called MDSW chief Nanet Tanyag to rush to Parola and help the victims.
“[Our office] acted as part of the incident management team last night. We supported the BFP in fire management. Initial evacuation plans and procedures were implemented. Evacuation centers were opened and coordinated all necessary activities with different departments,” MDRRMO chief Johnny Yu said.
“All forces were mobilized: evacuation, food, health and security,” Tanyag added, saying a medical team worked round the clock at the Delpan evacuation center, where the victims were temporarily moved.
Firefighters had difficulty getting through the narrow alleyways of Parola, causing their operation to drag on.
Some of the residents complained there were not enough responding firefighters, and they appeared to have been arguing among themselves during the blaze. But Tiu stressed 90 firetrucks were deployed to quell the fire, and that firefighters followed protocol.
Many residents spent the night sleeping on the pavement near the charred ruins of their homes. About 600 families sought shelter at the makeshift evacuation center at Delpan.
The BFP is still investigating what caused the fire. Initial reports said the fire may have been caused by faulty electric wiring or an unattended gas stove.
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