Pyro blast kills 3 in Mandaue

12/27/09 - JUST two hours before Christmas Day, a sudden fireworks display near the Mandaue City Sports Complex drew the attention of people living near the North Reclamation side of Barangay Centro.
But what first appeared to be a show turned into an inferno that destroyed 54 stands that sold firecrackers and damaged two others.

Worse, the blaze killed three persons—a pregnant woman and two minors who did not live to see Christmas Day. Six others suffered first- and second-degree burns.
Fire investigators theorized that a rogue firecracker may have dropped into one of the stalls, which then caused the chain reaction.
Over P100,000 worth of property were destroyed by the fire, said Mandaue City fire investigator FO3 Cipriano Codilla. He quoted a witness as saying that a lone firecracker triggered the flames.
Because of the accident, the Mandaue City Government ordered that all permits for the sale of firecrackers, except those issued to reputable and duly licensed firecracker merchants, be revoked.
In a text to Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said he was deeply saddened by the accident and promised a continuous campaign against the indiscriminate selling of firecrackers.
The Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) also increased its measures to regulate those who sell or use firecrackers and pyrotechnic products.
In Cebu City, an area at the South Road Property (SRP) has been designated as a firecracker zone since 2007.
CCPO Director Patrocinio Comendador Jr. told Sun.Star Cebu the police will strictly enforce the ban on the sale and distribution of all firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices outside the designated area.
Distributors inside the malls are not exempted from the enforcement, he said.
In Mandaue City, children were cautioned against playing near the fire scene, where live firecrackers remain buried under ashes and debris.
At 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, a small firecracker allegedly landed on the stall of a certain Gaimah Sajo, and started the blaze.
Those killed were identified as Minombao Bulao, 30; Akmad Barode, 7; and Osama Renabatan, 8. Bulao was pregnant.
Those injured were identified as Hanifa Mustafa, 11; Michelle Almeda, 24; Mosmira Ibrahim, 25; Lemuel Roy Flores, 14; Thelma Lacsamana, 45; and Mary Ruth Cadavos, 10.
The properties destroyed during the fire included a multicab and several motorcycles belonging to the stall owners.
Codilla said the fire department will return to the site to douse it with more water, as a precaution.
Firefighters are also keeping an eye on a fire that began in the Umapad dumpsite last Christmas Day.
Residents feared the smoke will cause health problems, referring to a similar problem in Cebu City’s Inayawan dumpsite.
Codilla told Sun.Star Cebu the Umapad fire started around noon last Dec. 25 and was put out at 9 p.m. that same day.
But firefighters again alerted yesterday that the flames were still burning.
“There is an ongoing combustion in our Umapad dumpsite. Methane underneath the surface of the garbage is fueling the fire. We are doing all that we can and all that our available resources can allow, to extinguish the fire,” said Mayor Cortes, in a text message.
The mayor added that the dangers that affect the dumpsite, like the fire, are part of the problems the City has encountered in closing the facility.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Police Chief Comendador said the pyrotechnics vendors in the malls were informed yesterday that they have until Monday to pull out the products.
He directed all the station commanders to spread the information, particularly in the malls, in their respective areas.
“We will let them know to give them time to pull out their products. This is for everyone’s safety,” Comendador said.
He will also coordinate with the Cebu City Fire Department to put a fire truck at the SRP so respond to any crisis.
Since the second week of December, the police have been confiscating firecrackers sold outside the designated area, particularly in downtown Cebu City, the police chief said.
The Mandaue City accident should remind revelers to use safe means of ushering in the New Year, said Cebu City Councilor Augustus Pe Jr. Pe heads the City Council committee on public order and safety.
“I’ve always been consistent in our stand to only use firecrackers in the firecracker zone, which is the SRP (South Road Properties). Lipay ko kay last (Dec.) 25, akongnabantayan mingaw ang pabuto (I’m glad only a few used firecrackers on Christmas Day),” Pe said.
Compared to seven last year, he added, at least 30 are now selling firecrackers at the SRP. Those selling firecrackers outside the SRP are doing so without permits.
In a resolution approved last Dec. 4, 2008, the Cebu City Council designated the SRP as the only place where traders can sell firecrackers and where revelers can use them.
Those “firecrackers/pyrotechnic devices (displayed) outside the designated area will be confiscated, redeemed and destroyed outright.”
Pe made the proposal to prevent injuries and fires during the Christmas season and the Sinulog celebration.
He warned traders that the sidewalk is no place to sell firecrackers, and that operations by the task force created to implement the resolution to seize their displays will continue.
“As chairman of the committee on public order and safety, I call on everyone to avoid using firecrackers. Firecrackers and fireworks should be handled by professionals,”the councilor said.
“Naa’y lata, naay kaldero, naay torotot. Nganong kinahanglan gyud ang pabuto? (We can use tin cans, pots and horns. Why should there be a need for firecrackers?),” he added.
(Sunstar)

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