Couple to face arson charge over Agdao fire

POLICE are preparing arson charge against the couple tagged by residents to have started the fire that razed 42 houses and a public school in Barangay Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Sr., Agdao District at 11:10 a.m. on Sunday.

Police identified the suspects as Terries Sarway Bandilan, 21, tricycle driver, a native of Manila, and Jean Martin Tay, 24, a saleslady, both transient residents of Purok 7, Iñigo Street in the said barangay.

The suspects denied the allegation and claimed they were mauled by residents. Tay said she was three-month-old pregnant but was kicked in the stomach.

The two sustained injuries on the different parts of their body. A Sta. Ana police officer responded to the commotion and withheld the suspects.

In the initial investigation, witnesses Marissa Caramogan and Gila Dacumos, both local residents, told investigators that they heard the couple having an altercation.

The witnesses said they saw fire coming for the rented room of the couple. The fire immediately spread to the neighboring houses, mostly made of light materials. The two suspects were renting a room in the house owned by Robinson Sambilad.

The Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP) XI said 42 houses were totally damaged. Three rooms in a building of Agdao Elementary School were partially damaged.

But Robert Diaz, the Monterverde barangay captain, told reporters that based on their assessment that 71 houses and 200 families were affected on the fire incident.

The fire that lasted until 1:30 p.m. damaged around P1 million.

The fire victims are temporarily sheltered at the gymnasium in front of the barangay hall.

The City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) released assistance to 121 families and 27 individuals affected by the Agdao fire. The victims, currently at the barangay covered court, were given food packs, sleeping mats, and medicines.

Maria Luisa Bermudo, head of CSSDO, said the local government is set to extend financial assistance to the victims this week.

Owners of houses destroyed by fire will receive P10,000. Those whose houses are damaged by the fire will also receive P5,000. Renters and boarders will also receive cash assistance.

Bermudo’s office will also provide stress debriefing sessions to the victims, especially the mothers and children.

Also on Sunday, a house in Green Meadows Subdivision, Barangay Santo Niño, Tugbok District was also gutted by fire around 11:20 a.m. The house was owned by Gery Bali, a resident of Geranium Street in the subdivision.

Fire out was declared around 12 noon as the responding firefighters and neighbors helped in dousing the flames. The BFP XI is still conducting investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

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