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Probers rule out arson in Davao City mall fire; 5 BFP officers sacked

DAVAO CITY — The special multi-agency task force investigating the December 23 fire incident that hit the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) Mall here is ruling out arson, as strong evidence points to the electrical short circuit as the cause of the fire.
Even if arson is a remote possibility, Senior Supt. Jerry Candido, spokesman of the Task Force, said that burn debris and ashes were still submitted for laboratory test.
Based on the initial investigation, Candido said the electrical wirings that were taken from the scene where the fire started strongly manifest there was an electrical short circuit.
The ocular inspection of the affected area where the fire started also manifest electrical problems.
He said something fell from the ceiling to the combustible parts on the third floor.
“That is what we (investigators) are pursuing),” Candido said in a phone interview.
Candido confirmed the fire started in the ceiling of the third floor of the furniture section of the NCCC department store. He explained that a fire triggered by an electrical short circuit spreads fast immediately.
He said the investigating team coming from the Department of Interior and Local Government as lead agency, BFP national office, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police conducted an evaluation of the electrical installations of the NCCC mall and the Survey Sampling International.
Candido hinted at few illegal practices that caused damage to electrical installations of the NCCC Mall.
Candido said the probers are detailing all evidence and findings because they are expecting a court battle.
Probers will be focusing on the liabilities of the people involved, including the NCCC Mall and SSI, which allegedly found to have lapses in complying with the Fire Code.
Candido said probers are careful in naming persons for now until they get testimonies of the witnesses from the NCCC Mall and SSI who were present when the incident happened.
He pointed out that dragging the investigation would open more assumptions or speculations, especially in Davao. He said some people have liabilities.
Candido confirmed the relief of five BFP Davao officers, including Supt. Honee Fritz Alagano, City Fire Marshall; Insp. Renero Jimenez, the Station Commander of the Talomo Fire Station; Senior Fire Officer 1 Leo Lauzon and Fire Officer 2 Joel Quizmundo, both fire safety inspectors; and Senior Fire Officer 1 Roger Dumag, chief of the city fire office’s safety enforcement section.

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