September 30, 2023

The cause of the fire that gutted blocks 3 and 4 of the city public market on March 11 is still unknown, the Bureau of Fire Protection-Baguio said.

In the May 22 session of the city council, City Fire Marshall Marisol Odiver said the initial investigation of the Arson Investigation Division of the BFP central office has ruled out short circuit and presence of flammable substances as the cause of the fire.

However, two months after the incident, the cause of fire has not been determined yet, as investigators are still looking for additional pieces of evidence.

Odiver said the investigators have directed BFP-Baguio to look for additional pieces of evidence such as CCTV surveillance footages and statements of witnesses.

The BFP-central office is investigating the incident based on protocol of the BFP, which directs the central office to investigate incidences that incur damage that cost over P60 million.

In the final assessment of the BFP, the total cost of damage at the public market was P84,780,000.

The city council will write the BFP central office to expedite its investigation, saying the public has been clamoring for the release of the results.

“The public wants a closure on this issue,” Councilor Leandro Yangot, Jr. said, recalling that an official of the Arson Investigation Division told him the investigation will take only one week to finish, but has now taken over two months, but still without a clear indication of the cause of fire.

Odiver said the BFP central office is aware of this, but they could not give an exact timeline on when they can conclude their investigation, pending submission of additional evidences.

The Baguio City Public Information Office last week reported Mayor Benjamin Magalong does not mind the investigation taking time, as long as the results are foolproof. 

The market fire, meanwhile, highlighted the BFP’s dependence on volunteer water delivery truck companies due to the scarcity of water.

With a total of 10 firetrucks, Odiver said Baguio has enough trucks to respond to fire incidents, but the problem is the lack of water.

So far, the only functioning fire hydrant is the one located at Kisad Road.  

To augment its supply, the BFP suggested for the city to construct a water reservoir exclusive for firefighting uses. – Rimaliza A. Opiña