June 5, 2023

Personnel from various City Hall departments government and civilian volunteers since day one are not letting up in the effort to clean up and eventually build back the burned areas of the city public market, which went up in smoke night of March 11, disrupting the livelihood and temporarily displacing more than a thousand of market vendors.
The cleanup at the ground zero of the fire was ongoing as of March 17, led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong who was among the first to respond at the scene after the fire broke past 11 p.m. of March 11 and was helping the teams from the Bureau of Fire Protection until fire-out was declared around 4:30 a.m. of March 12.
The Public Order and Safety Division, City Market Superintendent Office, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, General Services Office, sangguniang panlungsod, some of the market vendors themselves, as well as contingents from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police and volunteers responded to the call of the mayor for a seven-day cleanup drive starting March 13.
From midweek to March 17, city department personnel and volunteers, including carpentry students from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority started constructing temporary stalls in identified relocation areas for the 1,640 market stall owners affected by the fire.
Donations such as water, sacks, and food also poured in for assistance aside from the relief packs distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
City Fire Marshall Supt. Marisol Odiver said based on investigation, the massive fire that gutted Blocks 3 and 4, two of the newer portions of the public market, started at the wagwagan section near the chicken livestock at the Block 4 extension, which had highly combustible materials, and quickly spread to the other sections.
The fire may have also quickly spread considering the huge amount of fuel in the area used in some of the stalls.
Odiver said they have submitted pieces of evidence to the BFP national headquarters that were collected during the fire scene analysis using the National Fire Protection Association standards, arc mapping, and identification of patterns.
Statements from witnesses were also taken.
Magalong earlier said the city will use forensic examination to determine the cause of the fire.
“Hindi basta-basta visual ‘yan. Parang krimen din ‘yan. Dito natin malalaman kung paano talaga nag-umpisa at ito ay isinasagawa ng BFP to once and for all dispel ang mga intriga at kasinungalingan na ipinapakalat,” he said.
The mayor right after the fire and the start of rehab drive had also appealed to the public to help, be sensitive, and not to spread rumors as to the cause of fire.
“Let us not fan rumors and gossips that shall only make matters worse than it already is. Let us be respectful of each other’s sensibilities, avoiding public jokes and baseless comments that the fire was purposely done for selfish interest. This level of reaction to a public tragedy serves no purpose than to belittle the plight of the fire victims. It also disregards the sacrifice that our frontline responders offered in putting the fire under control,” the mayor said in a statement posted in his official social media account.
As of press time, Fire Insp. Bernard Bravo of the BFP-Cordillera said the city was still waiting for the results of the laboratory examination of the collected specimens such as ashes and electrical wirings which local authorities forwarded to the laboratory service.
He added they have also coordinated with the city government to provide documents such as floor and electrical plans of the affected buildings which may be needed if another site inspection will be conducted.
The city council on March 17 also granted the request of the Office of the City Mayor for the allocation of supplemental P8 million to be used for the market rehabilitation efforts and use of certain roads and parks as temporary relocation sites for the affected fire victims. – Hanna C. Lacsamana