RES­I­DENTS

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY GLAZYL Y. MASCULINO

help put out the fire which razed 43 houses at Barangay 6 in San Car­los City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal on Tues­day. A three-year-old boy re­port­edly went miss­ing in the fire which started in an al­leged drug den.

THE fire which razed 43 houses at San Juan Bay­bay at Barangay 6 in San Car­los City, Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal on Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 19, was ini­tially caused by an unat­tended can­dle in an aban­doned house used as an al­leged drug den, a re­port from the Bureau of Fire Pro­tec­tion (BFP) said.

Se­nior Fire Of­fi­cer 2 (SFO2) Mar­ilou Dela Cruz, city fire mar­shal, said the house is owned by Eric Ybañez who was ar­rested two months ago for il­le­gal drugs.

Dela Cruz said the house was aban­doned due to his ar­rest but it was re­port­edly used as a drug den by some in­di­vid­u­als who hold “pot ses­sion” there.

How­ever, she can­not tell if there were peo­ple in­side the house when the fire broke out at 4:23 p.m.

The fire left 40 houses de­stroyed and three oth­ers dam­aged.

All the houses, which were made of light ma­te­ri­als, were built in a man­grove area, Dela Cruz said.

Dela Cruz said they ini­tially had dif­fi­culty in pen­e­trat­ing the area be­cause it is a fire-de­pressed area, where in­for­mal set­tlers are sit­u­ated.

The fire, which was put out af­ter an hour, left an es­ti­mated P500,000 worth of dam­age.

A to­tal of 47 fam­i­lies were af­fected in the coastal vil­lage.

The af­fected fam­i­lies were tem­po­rar­ily shel­tered at the Re­gional Evacuation Cen­ter. They were pro­vided as­sis­tance by the lo­cal gov­ern­ment unit.

For his part, Su­per­in­ten­dent D’ Artag­nan Katal­bas Jr., city po­lice chief, said they sub­jected Ybañez in a buy-bust op­er­a­tion in De­cem­ber last year af­ter re­ceiv­ing re­ports about his il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

But af­ter the anti-drug op­er­a­tion, they have not re­ceived re­ports that the house was used as an al­leged drug den, he added.

It was just spec­u­la­tions be­cause the house was al­ready aban­doned, Katal­bas said.

The house was merely used as “tam­bayan” of street dwellers, he said.

The BFP has yet to is­sue a fi­nal re­port on the in­ci­dent, he said.

“We will in­ves­ti­gate re­ports from the barangay of­fi­cials,” he added.

Miss­ing

As this de­vel­oped, Dela Cruz said a three-year-old boy re­port­edly went miss­ing dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

Au­thor­i­ties found re­mains at their house but they can­not yet tell if it was a hu­man or a dog. It will be sub­jected for a DNA test.

Dela Cruz said the boy was sleep­ing while his 70-year-old grand­mother was at­tend­ing the house chores when the in­ci­dent hap­pened. His par­ents were not at home.

When the fire broke out, his grand­mother took some of her be­long­ings and locked the house, al­legedly for­get­ting about her grand­son.

As of 5 p.m. yes­ter­day, the boy is still miss­ing.

Ba­colod fire

Mean­while, an­other fire gut­ted 12 houses made of mixed con­crete and light ma­te­ri­als at Barangay Man­silin­gan in Ba­colod City late Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

A to­tal of 19 fam­i­lies were af­fected.

Based on the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the BFP, the fire started from the sec­ond floor of the house owned by Ly­dia Dela Cruz.

The fire was put out af­ter 30 min­utes. No in­juries were re­ported.*

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