By Freida Dario-Santiago
Last October 24, Thursday morning at 8:30, a fire broke out at a Muslim community in Sitio Ambulong, Manocmanoc village, considered the most densely populated area on Boracay Island, prompting authorities to raise the highest fire alarm level summoning all fire trucks to respond.
On behalf of the people of Boracay, New Boracay Sun would like to thank the amazing fire responders at “Fire Call” who risk their lives to save others:
Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP): 4 firetrucks from the municipalities of Nabas, Buruanga, Ibajay, augmented by crossing the channel on a barge
Boracay Fire Rescue & Ambulance Volunteers (BFRAV): 3 firetrucks & boom truck
San Miguel Corp. / TransAireBoracay Airport Fire Rescue: 1 firetruck
Fairways & Bluewaters: 1 firetruck
Savoy Hotel: 1 firetruck
Shangri-La: 1 firetruck
Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC) & Boracay Tubi System Inc. (BTSI): Water tankers
(Source: RAdm. Leonard Tirol, Philippine Coast Guard, Chairman of the Malay Police Station Advisory Council (MMPS-AC), Adviser of the Joint Task Force Boracay (JTF), and CEO of the Boracay Fire Rescue & Ambulance Volunteers (BFRAV)
According to Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) provincial fire marshal Supt. Nazrudyn Cablayan, the fire lasted up to three hours due to strong winds and challenges in penetrating the narrow alleyways leading to the fire scene, as firemen could only access it on foot.
Fire marshals declared the blaze as under control at 1100H and “Fire Out” at 1152H.
Cablayan said the area was considered “fire-prone" as "there were fire incidents there in the past,” which the bureau also put out.
The BFP reported that based on initial investigations, the fire originated in a residential kitchen and quickly spread to neighboring structures that were mostly boarding houses for the island’s workers.
According to a report dated October 25 by the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office (MSWDO) Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (the local government of Malay’s social welfare department), a total of 211 homes were damaged and 471 families were affected.
Fire damage was estimated at PhP1 million. According to one of the fire victims, among the casualties, a baby perished in the fire.
This was the second fire that hit Boracay in less than two weeks. From January to October 31 this year, the BFP recorded at least eight minor and major fire incidents.
We’ve heard it all before. It is the same story: a fire breaks out from an accident or act of carelessness, aggravated by strong winds. Roads are too narrow for firetrucks to navigate. The area is densely populated.
We at NBS would like to leave you with the big question on everyone’s minds:
Why do these senseless fires happen too often and what can the local government and the BFP do to get to the bottom this – to get ahead of it, and help avoid these situations once and for all?
Too many lives are affected - they lose family members' lives and everything they own. And still, when all the flames are put out, we simply donate to and relocate the victims.
Of the 471 families, 1,344 were family members and 377 boarders. The total number of persons affected is a staggering 2,192. Each number is a person that has lost EVERYTHING, and has been displaced. When the next fire comes along (God forbid!), these 2,192 will become merely statistics.
According to NBS news reporter Jun N. Aguirre in his report No Conspiracy Theory in Boracay Fires on page 19, “The BFP has identified several fire depressed areas in Boracay.” In other words, so many barangays (villages) are sitting ducks, and remain at risk of suffering the same fate.
In the same report, the BFP said in an interview that they are exerting efforts in these depressed area to ensure that fire incidents would be minimized. “We are planning to put up a combination stand pipes in the areas considered as fire depressed areas in order to ensure mobility of our firefighters and rescue volunteers,” Supt. Cablayan said. He added, “Last week, we visited all our fire hydrants in this resort island and we found that all of them are working.”
NBS would also like to acknowledge all the unsung hero volunteers, all those who came to the rescue at the scene, picked-up a bucket, kept watch over a friend’s belongings, all those who took the time to rummage through their homes, closets and pantries to drop-off much needed food, clothing and other basic necessities for the fire victims at barangay Manocmanoc.
Special thanks also goes out to those who took the initiative to hold charity events to help raise funds in their own ways:
Lazy Dog Bed & Breakfast’s Djila Winebrenner played her tunes to gather friends on October 25, a day after the fire that affected some of her staff. A hat was passed around with a collection that amounted to PhP4,900in a few hours.
Epic Boracay’s “Epic Loves Boracay: Boracay 2.0 First Anniversary” last October 26 that commemorated the island’s our reopening anniversary gathered Boracay’s top DJs for a one night only dance music festival. The fundraising event raised PhP9,750 from a portion of the door tickets that night. “It has always been our mission to give back to the community and to take care of the island in our own little ways. With this little action, we can help someone start again and recuperate from this tragedy,” Mark Santiago.
Epic Boracay’s marketing & events coordinator Franz Amparado personally hands over the donation to Manocmanoc Barangay Kagawad Ramonsito Colesio
Exit Bar’s “Rum & Coke for a Cause” fundraising party last November 4 raised PhP27,250.
According to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, there are no more evacuees at the Barangay Manocmanoc Covered Court. Most of them have moved in with relatives on the island, boarders have transferred to other boarding houses, and a few went back to their respective provinces. Some of the land and home owners are slowly rebuilding already.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
For those who wish to extend support, it is not yet too late to help. Much needed are hygiene kits, sleeping supplies & beddings, and kitchenware.
You may contact Barangay Councilor Cristian Gelito to coordinate: (0945) 723 0848.
Two Brown Boys’ “Booze for a Purpose”
For the benefit of the Mindanao earthquake victims
Local dive bar Two Brown Boys Burgers & Bar, in partnership with Desteleria Barako hosted an open mic and live acoustic jam charity event called “Booze for a Purpose” last November 15 that raised over ten thousand pesos at the booth aside from cash donations, for our brothers and sisters that had been devastated by the recent earthquake in Mindanao.
They invited the community and visitors to “Hangout and Help out! Your usual TGIF can mean a lot more for somebody in need out there. Our fellowmen in the heavily devasted regions of Mindanao are in critical need of what little aid we can hand. Let's take in some fun and give out some hope!” Bravo guys! Thank you for providing us a way to share a bit of support!