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Mishandling of fireworks may have sparked Bocaue inferno: mayor

Improper handling of products at a fireworks store in Bocaue, Bulacan may have caused the explosion and fire and left two people dead on Wednesday, town mayor Joni Villanueva said Thursday.



Citing findings of an initial investigation, Villanueva explained that Tuesday night’s heavy rains soaked the fireworks at the store owned by Gina Gonzales in Barangay Biñang 1st.

According to fireworks manufacturers, water sodden-products should be immediately disposed of as these may ignite while drying up. Gonzales’ store, however, kept the damaged products.

“In this incident, it was not disposed right away. The products were still inside the store. Although it was not even 24 hours yet, we saw an improper handling of the products,” Villanueva said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

The mayor added that although the store passed an earlier inspection by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and has complied with all business requirements, it was still evident that “there are some lapses” with its handling of products.

Meanwhile, BFP-Bocaue chief Senior Inspector Renante Batchine confirmed that before the explosion, several witnesses saw that Gonzales attempted but failed to put out a fire at the back portion of the store.

The fire spread to four other business establishments, including a rice mill. Television footage showed charred cars that had been overturned by the force of explosions from the fire, and debris across the road.

Two people were killed while 19 others sustained minor injuries and five more suffered serious injuries.



The local government has ordered a temporary closure of all fireworks store and factories in Bocaue, the “fireworks capital” of the country.

Mayor Villanueva said the town is not yet ready to permanently shut down its pyrotechnics industry if ever Wednesday’s inferno pushes President Duterte to impose a total fireworks ban nationwide.

“Honestly, our town is not ready yet for this total banning. Hundreds of families are at stake here,” she said.

“We share the vision of our President for a safe environment, but we also look into the livelihood of the people.”

Duterte had enforced a successful fireworks ban when he was still mayor of Davao City, and has promised to replicate the policy nationwide.

Authorities recently endorsed the renewal of business permits of some 200 manufacturers and dealers of firecrackers and fireworks in the towns of Bocaue, Sta. Maria, Baliwag, San Ildefonso, Pandi, San Rafael, Sta. Maria and Angat.

Public opinion on the closure of Bulacan's pyrotechnics trade is also divided, according to a report by ABS-CBN News' Kevin Manalo.

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