2,000 Homeless Following Philippines Fire

At least 2,000 families or up to 10,000 people may have lost their homes in a fire that razed a squatters' colony in Makati City Tuesday noon.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. said the city government is trying to find a relocation site for the families, either in Bulacan or in Laguna province.

"Estimate natin hindi bababa sa 2,000 pamilya ang apektado sa sunog ... mga 8,000 hanggang 10,000 na tao ang apektado," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

He said he has ordered the setting up of a tent where the displaced residents can cook their food.

The fire started shortly after noon and reached the general alarm. At least one firefighter, identified as Marcelo Ortega, was reported hurt in the fire.

The fire had also snarled traffic on a part of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), forcing the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to reroute traffic.

Metro Manila fire marshal Chief Superintendent Santiago Laguna said at least 900 houses were razed, affecting up to 2,700 families.

"Ang bahay na pinagmulan ay pagmamay-ari ng nagngangalang Michelle. Nagsimula umano ang apoy sa napabayaang rice cooker," Laguna said.

He also said they are verifying claims an overheated computer may have caused the fire.

In the same interview on dzBB radio, Binay said the site of the fire (Laperal Compound) is "dangerous" and "must not be inhabited," noting that this is the fourth time the squatter's colony has been razed by fire.

Binay advised the affected families to not return to their houses and just accept the offered relocation sites.

He said the Makati government's dream for the illegal occupants of the compound is for them to have their own houses.
AP