By CRIS DIAZ
CAGAYAN de Oro City–An inmate died in a fire that gutted several government offices, including the city’s police station, in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental, early dawn Tuesday.
Police identified the lone fatality as Rey Fuentes, an alleged mentally deprived person, who was detained in the city’s police station for safe keeping.
“The relative requested the temporary detention of Fuentes because he has turned violent,” the police said.
Police investigators said that aside from Fuentes two other inmates were rescued just in time as the fire quickly spread to the nearby offices.
Fuentes , who was not found immediately, was found dead, apparently hiding inside a barrel filled with water, investigators said.
Fire investigator Renante Lorono said that the fire, tapped in 12 midnight Monday, was placed under control at 1:30 Tuesday dawn.
Firemen and police who responded to the fire scene were held at bay as they cover for safety as grenade and ammunition exploded in the storage of the city’s police station as the fire swiftly spread to the adjoining offices made of light materials.
Superintendent Jerry Tambis, the city’s police chief, said that two M16 assault rifles and a 9mm Glock pistol were burned in the fire.
Aside from the city’s police station, the city’s post office, city jail, the social welfare department, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the city council which houses the city vice mayor’s office were razed to the ground.
The offices were housed in and adjacent to the 60-year-old city government building, which was the original municipal hall building before El Salvador became a component city of Misamis Oriental in 2007.
Lorono said that there was an initial report that the fire started in the ceiling and storage of the old city jail building.
“We are still investigating the cause of the fire and is not discounting the possibility that it could be due to faulty electrical wirings,” Lorono said.
He said that there were no other report of casualty and the initial damage to properties was placed at Php 500,000.
Vice Mayor Eduardo Ayunting said that the personnel of the damage offices would temporarily hold office at the city’s tourism building and sports center.
“It is unfortunate that this incident [fire] has taken place at a time when we are celebrating the annual fiesta next week,” Ayunting said.
He said that the buildings, which were gutted by the early dawn Tuesday were already 60 years older.
Ayunting said, that the city government has already approved a local legislation and a blueprint for the construction of the new government center in El Salvador City.
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