Caloocan fire chief sacked over mall blaze

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2012 10:23 PM | Updated as of Mar 21 2012 06:23 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The fire chief of Caloocan city has been removed from his post following the 80-hour blaze that struck Ever Gotesco Grand Central Mall over the weekend.

Chief Inspector Oscar de Asis was relieved of his post Tuesday, according to Chief Inspector Renato Marcial, spokesperson of the Bureau of Fire Protection in the National Capital Region.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo issued the order, Marcial said.

De Asis was replaced by Chief Superintendent Jeremy Diaz.

"Fire out" was finally declared at the Ever Gotesco mall at past 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Tenants went inside the building to see if they could still salvage anything from their stores.

Before being allowed to enter the building, they were first asked to present proof - like a mayor's permit, business permit, business registration and fire safety certificate - to show that they are indeed tenants.

BFP officers explained they had to be strict to prevent looting.

They added that fire had weakened the building's structural integrity and falling materials pose a real danger.

Video taken by ABS-CBN shows nearly the entire mall affected by the blaze, with shops burned and the ceiling having collapsed in several areas.

One tenant plans to demand payment from the mall's owner for his goods that were destroyed by the fire.

"Kahit bigyan lang kami kahit kaunti, puhunan namin yan eh," Oman Sarif said.

An inter-agency task force has begun its investigation into the incident.

It has been given 45 days to submit the results of its investigation.

Caloocan City Mayor Recom Echiverri has promised the mall's displaced tenants that he will help them relocate to other areas.

He also denied allegations he did nothing when the fire broke out. - reports from Gretchen Malalad and Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News; ANC