Fire investigators see arson as the cause of the Mambaling blaze
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Police now have custody of a man who is blamed for the fire that burned down around 300 homes in Sitio Lawis in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City on Friday, November 26.
The 39-year-old suspect, who is also a former detainee and a drug addict, is now admitted to a hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to his right chest and lacerations to his head and face after being mutilated by locals in anger.
Firefighter 2 (FO2) Fulbert Navarro of the Cebu City Fire Department said they had not yet determined the actual cause of the blaze. But with the arrest of the suspected arsonist, Navarro said, their investigation will now focus on the possibility that the blaze that displaced more than 3,000 people was done on purpose.
The damage caused by the fire was estimated at 875,000 P.
Navarro said he would soon visit the suspect, who is renting a room from Sitio Lawis, to also take his side. But he wanted to give her time to recover from her injuries which also cause her speech difficulties.
Citing the outcome of their initial investigation, Navarro said, a commotion was reported at the home of a certain Marlyn Sitoy, the suspect’s landlady.
He said the suspect threw a lit butane stove at Sitoy’s home and prevented neighbors from trying to put out the flame.
Navarro said the suspect was armed with a KG9 machine gun and threatened to shoot anyone who approached.
He said a brother tried to help the suspect escape but was followed by angry locals. Exchanges of gunfire were also heard near the coastal area of the barangay, where the suspect was later found by police.
Navarro said he would coordinate with the Mambaling Police Station in their ongoing investigation into the blaze.
But it is the fire investigators who will file an arson complaint against the suspect as soon as he is released from the hospital.
Jonathan lnoc, an non-uniformed staff member assigned to the Mambaling police station, said that the Cebu City Police Bureau (CCPO) Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) had a blotter on the suspect’s arrest. Friday night. But they continue to look into his track record.
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