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Biggest fire in Cogon caused by butane can

By: Jhunnex Napallacan, Norman V. Mendoza April 12,2015 - 02:37 AM

Kitchen fire spreads to 31 houses; LPG-refilled butane canisters  ‘hazardous’


Refilled butane canisters sell in sari-sari stores in Cebu and other provinces as cheap cooking fuel.  (CDN FILE PHOTO)

Refilled butane canisters sell in sari-sari stores in Cebu and other provinces as cheap cooking fuel.

If you’re cooking at home using a butane canister refilled with LPG, think again.

The  cheap but hazardous source of stove fuel was identified as the cause of Friday’s big fire that ruined or damaged 31 houses in barangay Cogon, Cordova town in Mactan.

The fire broke out 5:57 p.m. in the house of Junrey Baguio, whose brother Gregorio was cooking dinner in the kitchen when a leaking butane canister suddenly exploded.

Gregorio was hospitalized with 3rd degree burns in the body. His brother suffered minor burns in his arms.

At least 154 individuals lost their homes and were forced to take shelter in the Cogon barangay health center and barangay hall.

“This is the biggest fire we’ve ever had in our village,” said Cogon barangay captain Francisco Ando .

Two 7-year-old boys turned up in the crowd after their mothers reported them missing.

Butane canisters are intended as a disposable, emergency source of lighting stoves or for camping trips.

But enterprising local suppliers refill the canister with LPG and sell it at sachet prices even though the thin metal case is not suited for the pressure.

Budget-conscious consumers still snap up the cheap goods.

Despite warnings by the Department of Energy that this is a dangerous and illegal use of the product, refilled canisters are commonly sold in sari-sari stores and other outlets for as low as P10 to P15 per can.

The supply can last two to three days and is patronized by low-income households.

READ: Cooking with butane gas stoves cheaper, but LPG refills are fire hazard

“It’s all right to use the original product but when it’s consumed, throw it away. Some have it refilled with LPG.  That’s very dangerous.  Imagine how thick the metal case of an LPG tank is and then transferring the contents to a can,” said

SFO4 Mario Randy Cuizon, investigator of the Cordova Fire Department.

The fire was put out at 7:50 pm after destroying 26 houses and damaging five others.

Property damage was pegged at P1 million.

Since the land is owned by the occupants, fire victims will have no problem returning to rebuild their houses.

READ: 113 families lose homes to noon fire in Cebu City barangay

The Cogon barangay council declared a state of calamity and will be asking aid from the municipal government.

When the fire broke out, barangay officials were attending a seminar on disaster preparedness and fire prevention.

While the access road in the area was narrow, firetrucks were able to enter. Reinforcements were called in from Mandaue and Cebu cities but the fire trucks were delayed for two hours by traffic.

The barangay has water pipes but no fire hydrants.

Fire Inspector Marlyn Macatangay, the town’s fire marshal, said  Cordova’s two trucks are not enough for the needs of the population and that she has requested for more equipment from the central office.

They towh plans to set up barangay fire brigades and adopt other fire prevention measures.

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TAGS: Butane, fire

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