Fire hits homes near Malacañang Palace
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The streets of Malacañang had none of their usual calm on Wednesday morning, August 16, after residents of surrounding San Miguel district were forced to flee their homes due to a fire.
Families stayed right by the gates of Malacañang with their clothes, furniture, and pets as they waited for assistance or the go-signal to return to their homes.
Fire struck at 3:30 am on Wednesday in Barangay 645, Zone 67, according to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). It was declared under control by around 7 am, but not before leaving more than 2,000 people or around 400 families homeless, according to Manila Police District (MPD) Director Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel.
Coronel also said 80% of Barangay 645 was affected by the blaze, which came from a house with no electricity. Police believe a candle was left unattended, but they are also investigating claims that the candle was supposedly used for a drug session.
Tess Munar, a Post Office courier, said she lost the entire second floor of her home to the fire.
"We took our clothes, important papers, that's what we took but all that was left to us was the ground floor. The upper floor, our bedrooms, are gone," she told Rappler as she sat by Malacañang's Gate 2 with her belongings around her.
Beside her sat her elderly mother, Denang Villanueva, in a wheelchair, being fed her lunch.
Tess said her mother was the first person they carried out of their home.
While she is happy that the Department of Social Welfare and Development extended assistance to her family, she is anxious to be able to go back home.
She isn't optimistic that this will happen any time soon.
"We have to see if we can still sleep there tonight but probably not because it's dangerous, something might fall," she said.
Asked if she had enough funds to repair her house, she said, "I don't know. That's my problem now, how to pay for it. But what's important are our lives, not our belongings." – Rappler.com