Dumaguete fire - Times Mercantile and RTW store.

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Longtime Dumaguete grocery store razed by 5-hour fire

DUMAGUETE CITY - Local grocery store Times Mercantile, which has been operating for more than 30 years, was among the establishments destroyed by a five-hour fire that broke out along Dr. V. Locsin Street of this city Wednesday dawn.

City Fire Marshall Chief Inspector Manases Bautista told this reporter that the fire, which reached the third alarm, started at a ready-to-wear (RTW) clothing store beside Times.


Because the fire caught clothes and parts of the building were made of light materials, the fire spread easily to its neighboring establishments, waking up residents of nearby boarding house behind the RTW store and Times Mercantile.

Residents of the said boarding house immediately fled the fire; as a result, some of them sustained minor injuries, Dumaguete City Police deputy chief Senior Inspector Fortunato Villafuerte said, adding that two motorcycles and a pet dog were among those reportedly engulfed by the flames.

The fire incident was reported at around 3:16 a.m. Authorities arrived at the scene two minutes later.

Firemen battled with the flames for a little over five hours. The fire was declared under control at 7:23 a.m.

Bautista added that part of the reason why it took them five hours to control the fire is because they had to withdraw potentially explosive materials, such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks and insecticide bottles.

"Lisod kaayo (isulod sa may boarding house) kay daghang sige'g buto-buto. Katong kinatumyan gyud, delikado tong masudlan. Usa ray entrance adto, kay ang ubang entrance ug exits, na-block na man tungod sa debris (It was difficult to get through the building because there were a lot of things exploding. There was only one entrance we could use, as the other entrances and exits were blocked by debris)," the fire marshall said in an interview.

As of press time, investigators were clearing the area and have yet to determine the cause of the fire as well as the estimated cost of damage.

News of the fire shocked and saddened Dumagueteños, as Times Mercantile is one of the oldest business establishments in the city.

Dumaguete expert Ian Rosales Casocot, a professor at Silliman University and a Palanca Award-winning writer, noted in his Facebook post Wednesday that this was the second time the store was hit by fire.

In 2000, Times' old location on Perdices Street was also engulfed by flames along with fellow grocery store Ricky's, which eventually reopened and transferred to a new location. The incident killed two people and "reshaped how Dumagueteños did their after-hours grocery shopping," Casocot said.

"With Fortune Mart also gone, only Ricky's remain of the Dumaguete of old," Casocot noted, referring to another "business icon" which closed in 2014 after decades of operating in the city.

No casualties have so far been reported after the fire broke out. —KG, GMA News

Edited by Jollygoodfellow
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