Philippine Daily Inquirer - - METRO - By Krixia Sub­ing­sub­ing @ka­sub­ing­sub­ing

A fire gut­ted about half of the of­fice spa­ces of the Caloocan po­lice head­quar­ters on Tues­day morn­ing, forc­ing the evac­u­a­tion of over a hun­dred detainees and de­stroy­ing a size­able vol­ume of crime records and ev­i­dence.

The blaze, which started around 4:30 a.m., raged for about 90 minutes de­spite the build­ing prac­ti­cally be­ing a next-door neigh­bor of the fire sta­tion in Barangay San­gan­daan.

“We had to consider the safety of our fire­fight­ers be­cause there were sev­eral ex­plo­sions dur­ing the fire caused by am­mu­ni­tion go­ing off,” said FO3 Al­win Cu­lianan, one of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the Bu­reau of Fire Pro­tec­tion, when asked why it took that long to put out the fire. “The (po­lice) sta­tion was a very old build­ing and made of wood and light ma­te­ri­als.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has so far not noted any sign of ar­son, Cu­lianan added.

The fire left an es­ti­mated P1 mil­lion in struc­tural dam­age, ex­clud­ing de­stroyed prop­erty like of­fice equip­ment and ve­hi­cles. The cause re­mained un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, although a wit­ness re­ported see­ing the fire start at the press corps of­fice on the ground floor of the two story build­ing.

Vilma dela Vega, a helper at that of­fice, said she was in the toi­let when she heard a loud ex­plo­sion. “When I came out, I saw flames lick­ing the ceil­ing and the roof be­gan to col­lapse al­most im­me­di­ately,” she said.

The fire quickly spread to the nearby Scene of the Crime Oper­a­tions (Soco) of­fice, where guns and am­mu­ni­tion serv­ing as ev­i­dence in crim­i­nal cases were stored. It also reached the in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit where records of hun­dreds of cases were kept, in­clud­ing those of drug sus­pects re­cently killed by uniden­ti­fied gun­men.

But Se­nior Supt. Je­mar Mod­e­qui­llo, the city po­lice chief, said the fire would not af­fect on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions as copies of ma­jor case files were reg­u­larly sub­mit­ted to the North­ern Po­lice Dis­trict.

No se­ri­ous in­juries were re­ported and all of the sta­tion’s 102 detainees were im­me­di­ately moved to the Po­lice Com­mu­niy Precinct 1 in Bagong Bar­rio, Mod­e­qui­llo added.

The af­fected of­fices are ex­pected to be given tem­po­rary space at the sta­tion’s mul­ti­pur­pose hall.


Among the items dam­aged by Tues­day’s fire are firearms marked as ev­i­dence in crim­i­nal cases.

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