(UPDATED) A fire which broke out at past 1 p.m. on Wednesday razed at least 80 stalls spread across a large portion of the decades-old Cogon Public Market in Tagbilaran City.
According to Tagbilaran City Fire Station marshal Sr. Insp. Marlyn Macatangay, the blaze gutted an old building which housed the stalls inside the one-hectare market compound and left an estimated P3 million worth of property damage.
The fire which started at 1:20 p.m. was initially raised to the First Alarm and later elevated to Task Force Alpha before it was declared under control at 1:50 p.m., said Macatangay.
Task Force Alpha is the sixth highest fire alarm out of 11 levels, the highest of which is General Alarm.
Authorities said that the fire started at the center of the one-hectare market compound and quickly spread to the surrounding stalls which were mostly made of light materials and where vendors sold rice, vegetables, native products, clothes and motor parts, among others.
According to Macatangay, the Tagbilaran City Fire Station was augmented by fire trucks from Dauis, Baclayon, Maribojoc and private water tankers which were deployed to the scene.
There were no reported injuries or deaths during the incident.
A report indicated that the fire was caused by electrical short circuit while another also said that it was caused by unattended rice which was being cooked.
However, these remained unconfirmed as investigators continued their probe to identify the cause of the fire.
According to Tagbilaran City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office chief Gerard Labadia, they are offering temporary shelter to two families who they found out were living inside their stores at the market.
“Na-identify nato na diri sila tigkatog so ipahiluna nato sila. Kung ok sila, agto sila sa atong city evacuation center,” Labadia said, noting that there are likely still other individuals who have been sleeping at their stores inside the decades-old facility which is owned by the city government.
Meanwhile, Tagbilaran City Mayor Baba Yap is set to offer assistance to those affected by the fire, he added.
Jose Sabillion, a 56-year-old who owns a variety store inside the market, said that he was not able to save any of his belongings as he made sure to keep his children safe first.
“Taud-taud, pagbalik nako kusog na kaayo ang kayo. Pag abot nako, gadagan akong asawa, akong tindihan na ugdaw na. Di na matabang ang kaayo mao ang akong gisuguro akong mga bata, gi-safety nako bahala na ang mga butang,” he said.
Gaspara Pojas, 81, who said that she has been selling native products at the market since 1976, also had most of her merchandise burned in the flames.
The blaze that engulfed the Cogon Public Market, one of Tagbilaran City’s main markets, was the second large-scale fire to hit the city in 2019.
In February, 37 families were displaced by a fire which hit a residential area in Barangay Booy, Tagbilaran City. (A. Doydora)