'Window grills prevented factory workers from escaping fire'

From a report by Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2015 08:28 PM | Updated as of May 15 2015 10:01 AM

VALENZUELA CITY, Philippines - Iron grills on the windows of the fire-hit slippers factory in Valenzuela City prevented the workers trapped inside from escaping, a co-worker said.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News on Thursday, night shift worker Robert Donato said he was asleep when fire erupted in the two-storey factory building of Kentex Manufacturing Inc. Wednesday noon.

He said, after being awakened, he and other witnesses immediately ran to the building to help the dozens of his co-workers trapped inside.

They, however, could no longer go near the building due to the massive fire, he said.

Donato said, from the glass windows on the building's second floor, they saw some of his co-workers asking for help.

"Nakikita po namin humihingi po sa amin ng tulong, eh wala naman po kaming magawa," he recalled. "Mga pangatlong bintana po siya, sa dulo."

"Nakahawak po [sila], yung iba pa nga po halos masunog na," he added.

He said iron grills on the windows prevented the trapped workers from getting out of the building.

"Kasi parang mga ano yan eh, yung window po nila [Kentex], pag binuksan niyo meron pa pong bakal na nakaharang," he said.

Other witnesses confirmed that no one was able to get out of the burning factory through the windows. They said they saw only four workers jump from the roof.

According to Donato, aside from the main door and the backdoor, the windows were the only other way out for the trapped workers.

"Dalawa lang ho [ang daan], isa po diyan sa harap, isa po sa kabila... maliban po sa bintana kung sakaling mabubuksan niyo po," he said.

A total of 72 people were confirmed killed in the blaze. Sixty-nine of the victims were on the factory building's second floor.