Fire hits Tutuban Mall

Posted at 09/05/12 8:31 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Three people were injured in a fire that hit several stalls in Tutuban Mall in Divisoria, Manila early Wednesday.

Authorities said one of the injured victims was identified as Katrina Busque, who suffered a cut on the forehead after she was hit by falling debris.

Busque was rushed to the Abad Santos General Hospital to receive treatment.

Two volunteers identified as Zaldy Bautista and Leonardo Mariano of Tracer fire and rescue volunteer, meanwhile, suffered from suffocation due to thick smoke.

The fire reportedly began at a garments store inside the building at 12:41 a.m.

The fire was elevated to Task Force Charlie at 5:30 a.m. This means fire trucks from other districts in Metro Manila are mobilized to respond to the fire.

Fire officials said they had a hard time extinguishing the blaze due to thick smoke and heavily locked stalls.

Firemen also had to use breathing apparatuses inside the building due to poor ventilation.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) admits that the firefighters lacked water supply, which made it difficult to put out the fire. 

As a solution, they had to bring a pumping machine to recycle water. 

According to Chief Insp. Bonifacio Carta, arson investigator of Manila BFP, about 20 stalls in the mall’s first level are totally burned. 

Carta showed to ABS-CBN News the floor plan of Tutuban Mall and he said the fire started at stall C-18, but due to combustible material stored inside it, the fire quickly grew.

Carta still cannot determine what caused the fire, despite claims of some eyewitnesses that it was electrical. -- with reports from Alex Santos and Jerome Lantin, ABS-CBN News; and Noel Alamar, dzMM