Thieves, who stole a helmet that they later sold for P150, accidentally triggered the fire that claimed the lives of six people at the Java Pension House at Gonzaga-Locsin streets in Bacolod City, Tuesday.
The thieves used a lighter to cut the strap of the helmet and its flames ignited the motorcycle it was attached to. The burning motorcycle parked at the ground floor of the pension house then caused the deadly blaze that crept through the building, the police said yesterday.
Two of the three suspects identified as Venancio Valeriano, 27, alias “Lumot,” of Barangay Amayco in Murcia, Negros Occidental, and Rodolfo Inson Jr., 23, alias “Onyok,” of Barangay 40 in Bacolod, were arrested yesterday.
Police Maj. JovilSedel, Station 1 chief, said that Valeriano and Inson were collared in Murcia and Barangay 27 in Bacolod, respectively.
The suspects’ other companion, whose name the police withheld, is still at large, Sedel said.
Sedel said witnesses gave information that matched the profiles of the suspects, who were positively identified through the police rogues’ gallery.
Valeriano and Inson told the police after their arrests that they were roaming around the downtown area with their companion when they passed by the Java Pension House and saw the helmet attached to one of the motorcycles parked at the ground floor of the establishment.
Since they did not have scissors or knives, they used a lighter to burn the strap of the helmet, and the motorcycle caught fire, Sedel said.
The suspects left going east of the area, sold the helmet for P150, and were eating, when they heard an explosion, Sedel said.
He said the suspects even returned to the Java Pension House to see the fire.
Charges for arson with multiple homicide and physical injuries are being readied against Valeriano and Inson, who both have previous cases for theft, and their companion.
Valeriano, Inson, and the other at-large suspect, came to know each other while in a detention cell, during previous arrests for various offenses, Sedel said.
The deadly fire killed Christopher Java, 33, the owner of the pension house, his mother Magdalena, 73, his son Christian Miguel, 12, nanny Ronalyn Dacalio, 43, Arnold Felomino, 58, who was assigned at the front desk, and Arnel Bajenting, 42, of Cebu.
Investigation by the Bacolod Bureau of Fire Protection showed that the fire started at the ground floor of the pension house.
Meanwhile, 33 emergency responders of the Bacolod Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, Mountain Tigers Rescue Group and Barangay Sum-ag Rescue Unit underwent a psychological first-aid (PFA) session yesterday.
They were the team of emergency responders who were directly and indirectly involved in the retrieval of the six fatalities at Java Pension House Tuesday and another fatality in Purok Sigay, Barangay 2 in Bacolod, Thursday.*
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