March is Fire Prevention Month, but ironically, it is also the month when the worst fire incidents that went down in Philippine history took place.
Fire voraciously consumes almost anything it touches. We have seen this many times over the past decades and only recently, a Cavite factory was razed by fire causing billions of pesos worth of damages. Of the 300 workers inside the factory compound, one died while others sustained critical injuries.
The government has been consistent in taking initiatives to raise awareness through its fire prevention campaign, especially after the tragic fire-related incidents in recent years that took the lives of many.
In support of their efforts and to help prevent history from repeating itself, we’ve summed up 5 of the deadliest fire incidents that took place in the Philippines.
The Philippines’ Most Tragic Fire Incidents
1. Manila Orphanage Fire
December 4, 1998 | Manila | Death Count: 28
With only a few days before Christmas, the orphans at Bahay Kalinga had an unpleasant surprise. It was the dawn of December 4. While many are still fast asleep, the orphanage in Manila was razed by fire. Investigations later revealed that “faulty electric wiring” sparked the fire, leaving about 28 fatalities -- most of them are orphans, while two children went missing but were presumed dead later on.
2. Marikina Wig Factory
January 22, 1975 | Marikina City | Death Count: 42
In 1975, a tragic accident killed 42 people when a fire broke out in a wig factory in Marikina. The fire initially blazed on the first floor before it quickly consumed the upper floors. Tragically, workers on the upper floors were entrapped as all the fire exits were engulfed by flame. Many of those who risked jumping off the burning building died after sustaining fatal injuries. Within 3 hours of the raging fire, 42 people died while 79 sustained injuries.
3. Manor Hotel
August 18, 2001 | Quezon City | Death Count: 75
It was at around 4:30 am on August 18, 2001 when a fire flared in the Manor Hotel in Quezon City -- a tragedy which eventually turned out to be the worst hotel fire in Philippine history. Over 170 people were staying in the 6-storey hotel when the fire broke out on the third floor. The suffocating smoke covered most of the building stopping hotel guests from coming out of their room. To make the incident worse, they could not escape through the windows as they were blocked with metal grills which is clearly a violation of the building safety standards and regulations. About 75 people died in this fire accident while 35 more were injured.
4. Kentext Manufacturing Fire
May 13, 2015 | Valenzuela | Death Count: 74
The most recent in this list--the Kentex Factory fire that killed 74 people in 2015 proved that catastrophic fire accident is not a thing of the past. This incident is the 3rd worst fire in Philippine's recent history. According to reports, the fire was triggered by a welding project at the entrance of the building. The spark quickly set the chemicals and rubbers inside the shoe factory on fire. After which, the poisonous smoke and foul smell spread all over the building and killed many workers.
The building burned for 5 hours razing the corpses to ashes. The retrieval operations, however, was one of the most gruesome in recent memory. According to PNP chief Leonardo Espina, “Many of those retrieved were reduced to skulls and bones."
5. Ozone Disco
March 18, 1996 | Quezon City | Death Count: 160
The tragic fire at the Ozone Disco Club in 1996 is deemed the worst fire tragedy in the Philippines in recent years. The supposedly fun night at the disco, filled with mostly graduating students, eventually turned into a nightmare. Survivors recounted that the fire started at the DJ's booth where sparks were seen coming from it. The fire quickly spread along with the smoke that suffocated them.
Worst of all, there was only one way out and as the club was jam-packed, the exit door was blocked by people who were fighting for their survival. Many of the guests were roasted alive. When the fire was put out, charred corpses piled at the doorway. After the investigation, it was revealed that the club violated several regulations that resulted in this fatal incident. About 160 died and 93 were severely injured. This tragedy clinched the 6th spot of the world's worst nightclub fire.
Fire Safety & Prevention
Fire outbreak may come by accident but for the most part it can be prevented. With proper fire safety habits and a place designed to minimize the spread of fire, you have greater chance of surviving this tragedy.
Below are some of the tips that you need to know to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of tragic fire-related accidents.
Use the stairs not the elevator. An elevator can easily entrap smoke and suffocate you. It will also stop operating when the wiring gets affected.
Stay low. Stay low under the smoke as you find your way towards the exit.
Stop. Drop. Roll. If your clothes catch fire, you should stop, drop to the floor, and roll over until the fire is extinguished.
Seal off Smoke. Smoke is the first thing that can kill you. If you're trapped, use duct tape or damp towels to seal any cracks, holes, and crevices where smoke can pass through.
Know the way out. Plan at least two ways to get out of every room and make sure the exit door opens easily.
Test smoke alarms. Do a monthly test on your smoke alarms. Make sure every level of the building, apartment or home have smoke alarms.
What’s your thought on this? Do you have fire-prevention tips that you want to share? Let us know by leaving a comment below.