BUTUAN CITY, Philippines - At least 18 persons is reported to have perished in an early dawn fire this morning, May 9, 2012 at Tan building along Montilla Boulevard, this City.
Early reports indicate that the 18 persons who died in the fire are all "stay-in" employees of Novo Department Store in which the fire started. It was also reported that there were 3 survivors who jumped off the second floor of the building. The fire, which is reported to have started at the department store, also gutted several establishments in the area including the business center of Smart Communications, Inc. and Crown Supermarket. Unconfirmed reports indicate that there is no fire exit of the building which caused the employees to be trapped at the third floor.
According to reports from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Junel Albuelo, Novo's guard on duty said stay-in personnel of the establishment are staying at the 3rd floor. He added he heard an explosion inside the store, afterwhich, he observed thick smoke already came out at the ground floor. He also said the main gate has double lock (inside & outside). Albuelo also confirmed that 22 personnel are staying in the store last night.
This is the second time that a fire in Butuan City occured in this magnituted were a lot of "stay-in" employees have perished in a department store. Several years ago, at least 23 people died in a fire in a local Fairmart department store that made the headlines.