By EDWIN IYO
and JOEY NACALABAN
SEPARATE fires broke out in Lagonglong town and in Carmen here the same night, devouring five blocks in a commercial area and destroying the houses of former provincial administrator Patrick Gabutina and Councilor George Goking.
The fire in Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, started at around 11:20 pm Tuesday in a commercial-residential area near the town hall. One of the houses destroyed belonged to the family of Gabutina, a former town vice mayor.
Pons Bana, municipal administrator, said officials were still counting the commercial establishments and houses damaged and destroyed by the fire that started some100 meters from the back of the municipal hall building and near the town public market.
Bana estimated the damages to reach at least P20 million but FO1 Ariel Rey Udarbe of the Bureau of Fire Protection placed the structural damages at only P400 thousand.
Investigators said they were looking into reports that the fire originated from a clothing store at the second block. The cause remains unknown.
Udarbe said the fire spread fast towards Block 1 and Block 3, and subsequently, towards Block 4.
Udarbe said all the establishments in two blocks were destroyed.
At Block 5, only one house was damaged.
Bana said there were at least 24 families displaced by the fire.
Earlier that night, the house of Councilor Goking on Vamenta Blvd. in Carmen, this city, was destroyed by fire.
Goking called for an investigation into the fire, saying he found it “unusual and abnormal.”
The fire reportedly started at the ceiling.
Goking was in the house when the fire started. He said he even managed to use a fire extinguisher but failed to stop the fire from spreading.
Goking said he lost all his personal belongings.
The first level of the Goking building was leased out to the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco) for its substation office.
Goking said he was thankful that he and his son who were in the house were unhurt.
“Naa kos balay kay wala man mi hand-shaking. Maayo nalang wala pa ko natulog kay kung nakatulog ko sure gyud ko ma-suffocate sa aso,” Goking said.
He said he was inside his room, and when he opened the door, smoke was already bellowing from the sala.
Goking said he would ask the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP) to conduct an investigation to make sure it was not an arson case. He did not elaborate.