In the Philippines, March is Fire Prevention Month. While the Philippines is more known for its devastating typhoons, fires have also wreaked havoc throughout the country’s history. Through these experiences, the country’s Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has made sure to be well-prepared during Fire Prevention Month and all throughout the year.
During this time of the year, let us look back at the worst fire incidents in the Philippines’ history; how they happened so we can learn how to prevent them from happening again.
Ozone Disco (1996)
For the graduating seniors in Quezon City, a night of euphoric celebration turns into tragedy.
Back in the 1990s, the Ozone Disco was the local dive bar and weekend gathering spot for college students and trendies. Many of the young people who went to the club on March 16, 1996, wanted to relax to celebrate the end of the school year and their upcoming graduation ceremonies. Everybody was enjoying the moment until the DJ set caught fire.
The fire killed 162 people and injured over 90 others among the 350 clubbers and 40 personnel at Ozone Disco that night. Many persons were accused in connection with the incident, but it wasn’t until 2014 that seven Quezon City government authorities were convicted guilty of anti-graft and corrupt actions concerning the Ozone Disco administration.
Bahay Kalinga Fire (1998)
A fire started at the Bahay Kalinga orphanage in Paco, Manila, on December 4, 1998, due to poor electrical wiring. Most of the children and their caregivers were still sleeping around 2 a.m.
There were 70 persons within the establishment that night, and 28 of them died, the majority of which were orphans. These were the children stranded on the top floors and the babies left in the nursery. Two children have gone missing and are believed to be dead. Sadly, the fire occurred just one day before a local company was set to throw a children’s Christmas celebration.
MV Doña Paz (1987)
The passenger ship Doña Paz was sailing from Tacloban, Leyte, to Manila. MT Vector, an oil tanker, was transporting 1,050,000 liters of fuel as well as other petroleum products from Bataan to Masbate at the same period. The two yachts crashed shortly before midnight on December 20, 1987, just five days before Christmas, in the Tablas Strait near Marinduque. This started a fire that swiftly spread throughout the ship. Survivors would subsequently describe that, in addition to the ship, the sea appeared to be on fire, as a result of the ship’s gas and petroleum leaks.
In what has been considered the world’s greatest peacetime maritime accident, an estimated 4,000 passengers died. The lack of life jackets and the passenger vessel’s overcapacity—at least two thousand people were not recorded on the manifest—added to the disaster.
NCCC Mall (2017)
A fire consumed the 14-year-old NCCC Mall in Davao two days before Christmas, a season when most Filipino go shopping at malls. A short circuit near the roof of the fabric and furnishings sections caused the fire. The fire burned for 32 hours, killing 38 people, the majority of which were called center personnel working on the fourth floor.
Officials eventually discovered that the building’s third story, where the fire started, lacked a working sprinkler system. Sprinkler system control valves were also manually switched off at the time of the incident.
Manor Hotel (2001)
On August 18, 2001, the Manor Hotel in Quezon City had over 170 individuals overnight on its six floors. A fire started over the third floor at 4:30 a.m., and the smoke prohibited many guests from leaving their rooms. They may have merely climbed out the windows if their windows didn’t have metal grills, which would have been an obvious breach of building safety rules and regulations. The hotel also lacks additional safety features such as water sprinklers, fire alarms, emergency lighting, and fire escapes, according to a recent assessment.
A total of 75 individuals were killed, with another 35 injured. The majority of those killed were part of a Christian crusade organized by Don Clowers Ministries in Texas. The majority of the victims were discovered in the bathroom, as they attempted to flee the smoke.
A Wig Factory in Marikina (1975)
The fire began on the factory’s first floor. It swiftly spread to the upper floors because of the extremely flammable materials. Because the fire escapes had already been eaten by the fire, the majority of the workers were stuck. Some trapped workers on the top stories attempted to leap, but they died as a result of their injuries.
42 individuals died, while 79 others were seriously injured.
Kentex Slipper Manufacturing Fire (2015)
A business that made flipflops and rubber shoes caught fire on May 13, 2015, after welding sparks burned substances that were incorrectly kept near the factory’s entrance. The fire took five hours to entirely extinguish, and 74 people were dead by that time. The majority of the bodies were discovered on the second level and were substantially burned, reduced to charred heads and bones.
Survivors of the fire accused the factory’s terrible working conditions. Rex Gatchalian, the mayor of Valenzuela City, was charged with graft and reckless imprudence, resulting in several death and physical injury accusations two years later. The accusation against Gatchalian, however, was dismissed by the Antigraft Court’s Second Division. – WhatALife!