CEBU CITY—The fire at Metro Ayala in Cebu City has been “contained in the area” but is still not under control as of 10 a.m. on Saturday, about 12 hours since the flames broke out.
Supt. Ronaldo Orbeta, deputy director for operations of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP-7) and ground commander, said firefighters continue to put out the fire that destroyed the department store’s five floors.
The fire had not spread to the adjacent Ayala Center Cebu although the mall remained closed and the employees evacuated.
A haze alert was issued by Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office ( CDRRMO) chief Nagiel Bañacia on Saturday morning due to the smoke from the ongoing fire.
The thick smoke had enveloped most of the Cebu Business Park which the store was located as well as the establishments in front.
Nearby establishments and homes were advised to take some precautionary measures, and to temporarily evacuate to avoid the thick smoke.
The fire broke out at 9:48 p.m. from the storage room of the toy department located on the third floor.
No casualty were reported.
“We have yet to determine the cause of the fire. The investigation continues,” said Orbeta.
Two jack hammers and a crane were used to drill into the department store’s walls to ventilate the building and relieve the smoke and heat.
At 8:45 a.m., the fire department had raised the fire alarm into task force bravo, which meant all fire stations from Danao City down to Naga City were asked to respond to the fire alarm.
Orbeta said they will request those assigned in the storage room to appear before the BFP to explain what happened.
Orbeta said they will also verify reports that the department store’s spinkler and fire alarm did not function.
“Our problem was we had limited breathing appartus and there was zero visibility inside the department store which was an enclosed space,” he explained.
“We are currently working on drilling holes on the building’s walls to relieve the smoke and heat,” he added.
The department store’s two basements and ground floor were spared from the flames.