February 27, 2024
CASE CLOSED — Saying the fire that gutted blocks 3 and 4 of the city public market on March 11 was accidental, the Bureau of Fire Protection central office has considered the case closed and solved. Investigation points the fire was caused by the embers of an unattended lighted cigarette that made contact with combustible materials. — Harley Palangchao

Case closed and solved.

The Bureau of Fire Protection has ruled the fire that gutted Blocks 3 and 4 of the city public market on March 11 was accidental.

In a letter dated June 14, City Fire Marshal Supt. Marisol Odiver has informed City Mayor Benjamin Magalong their office received the final investigation report on the market fire from the BFP general headquarters, which recommended to consider the fire incident closed and solved for being accidental in nature, without prejudice to its reopening if ever new evidence or witnesses surface.

It further recommended for BFP Baguio to strictly enforce the provisions of the Fire Code of the Philippines.

The investigation team reported after investigation and evaluation of the testimonies of witnesses and technical/forensic analysis conducted at the fire scene, it was determined the fire most probably originated at the ground of the concrete column, north corner of stall 46 at Block 4 extension.

Based on pieces of evidence gathered, statements of witnesses, and other circumstances, the investigation team found “reasonable ground that the fire was caused by the embers of an unattended/discarded lighted cigarette that made contact with readily combustible materials at the bottom of the sack of clothes found at the concrete column in stall B246, leading it to combust.”

The report added other probable causes of the fire – such as energized electrical conductors, appliance malfunction and/or machine overheating, industrial hot works, open flame from cooking and lighted candles, frictions, and mechanical sparks – were eliminated as these common hazards did not exist in the area where the fire started.

The result of the electrical analysis report released by the Fire Laboratory Services on March 20 also supported this finding.

The BFP said the investigation of the fire incident used accepted standards of fire and arson investigation procedures with reference to National Fire Protection Association 9221: Guide for Fire Explosion Investigations and other references of equal field of study.

It added the completion of the final investigation report conformed with the regulations and mandated functions of the BFP.

The fire that hit the city public market past around 10 p.m. of March 11 affected over 1,700 vendors with damage estimated at P40 million.

The affected vendors were temporarily relocated to areas identified by the city government and received assistance while the burned areas were being repaired. The city, assisted by volunteers, cleaned up the burned areas and put up new stalls in a week’s time. – Hanna C. Lacsamana