300 stalls razed to ground in early morning fire at Oton public market

PHOTO CAPTION: This aerial shot of the fire scene shows the expanse of the damage brought by the early morning conflagration that hit the Oton Public Market, razing some P30 million in damages, not including the products that market vendors had stocked up on for today’s market day./iNews (N. Glenn Aragon/Photo courtesy of Jo Ramil Valencia/Oton Infocen)

ILOILO–A huge conflagration struck the public market of the town of Oton past midnight today, December 20, razing to the ground an estimated 300 stalls in the process.

According to Joselito Barranco, all three of his stalls where he sells rice were all burned, including some 50 sacks of rice and P10,000 in cash.

Another stallholder, Michel Suarez, said he lost everything. A fishmonger, Suarez estimates his losses at P20,000 at least, mostly representing fish he was to sell on “market day” today.

Barranco said they believe the fire started from the slaughterhouse area, with the first fire alarm sounding at 12:05 am.

From initial information, it was learned around 80% of all the stalls selling items ranging from groceries, fruits, rice, hardware, food, and ready-to-wear clothes were hit by the flames.

It took a while for responding firemen to put out the fire after exploding liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks further fueled the flames.

According to Barranco, two firetrucks were the first to respond to the fire call but one, he said, was without water. The Bureau of Fire Protection-Iloilo (BFP-Iloilo) is still investigating this allegation.

LGU’S HELP

Meanwhile, according to Municipal Administrator Jafet Salinas, losses from the fire could reach no less than P30 million, not including the cost of the burned merchandise from all the affected stores.

Despite that, Salinas gave assurances that the municipal government will do everything possible to help those who were severely affected by the blaze.

“Definitely, may himuon nga alternatibo ang aton nga local government unit para mabuligan ang aton mga vendors [Definitely, the officials of our local government unit will provide options to our public market vendors to help them],” he averred. (N. Glenn Aragon/iNews)

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