A Cebu resident was the last one to be identified of the six fire fatalities at Java Pension House, at Gonzaga-Locsin streets in Bacolod City, Tuesday.
Bacolod Fire Marshal Chief Insp. Publio Ploteña identified yesterday the then unidentified sixth fire casualty as Arnel Bajenting.
Others who died in the early morning fire were Christopher Java, 33, the owner of the pension house, his mother Magdalena, 73, his 12-year-old son Christian Miguel, nanny Ronalyn Dacalio, 43, and Arnold Felomino, 58, who was assigned at the front desk.
The bodies of the Javas and Dacalio were retrieved at the second floor, while the charred body of Felomino was found at the rooftop, and Bajenting was found lying in a hallway, Ploteña said.
Injured were Paul Codognato, 75, is an Australian national, Rey Bayona, Janine Pepito and Romeo Omnus.
Initial cause of fire was from the motorcycles parked at the ground floor of the pension house.
The investigators however are still probing whether there was arson in the incident, Ploteña said.
Damages was placed at P5 million from the initial P8 million after further inventory, he said.
The five-hour fire started at about 4:37 a.m. and destroyed most parts of the pension house and the adjacent State Motor Parts Co. Inc., Pauleaster Upholstery and Supplies, Kusina, Jimmy’s Gym, Dizon Dental Clinic, Arca Review Center, and Zoomi Bags and Plates.
Ploteña said that they were told during a meeting with Bacolod Mayor Bing Leonardia and other city officials yesterday, to intensify the conduct of inspections on business establishments.
Leonardia yesterday said the fire incident was an unfortunate and sad day for Bacolod because it did not only damage properties but also cost the lives of six persons.
“If you talk about the building, we have a sentimental attachment to it because it used to be Bascon Hotel 2. And during the early days of the tourism industry, that was one of the pillars of the industry,” he said.
Leonardia said they would like to dig into this.
May this serve as a lesson to all of us to review our fire drill, evacuation plans, etc, so it should become a habit and something that should be standard operating procedure.
Ploteña said most of the dead were trapped in the building and died from suffocation.
Leonardia said he asked Ploteña to revisit the implementation of rules of engagement, so if a similar incident happens, everyone will know what to do.
He suggested that the BFP should have a copy of the evacuation plan of every building in Bacolod so they will know where to pass and which area should the rescuers concentrate on.
The mayor called for a conference yesterday that was attended by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, the heads of the Office of the Building Official, City Engineer’s Office, Bacolod City Police Office, Bureau of Fire Protection, and other department heads, to discuss the fire incident.
During the case conference, they discussed possible angles to determine the source of the fire that did not only raze the Java Pension House but other neighboring establishments as well.
They have received reports that a motorcycle that was parked outside was apparently burned.
Bacolod Police Director Supt. Henry Biñas said the joint investigating team is looking at all possible angles and they are also collating all testimonies from witnesses and from the fire survivors to determine the source of fire.
They will come up with their recommendation together with the result of their investigation, he said.*
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