BFP reopens Camotes truck fire case

AFTER lapses in the local investigation were noted, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Cebu Provincial Office reopened the case involving the fire incident that damaged the truck of Rep. Vincent “Duke” Frasco (Cebu, 5th) in San Francisco, Camotes Islands on Jan. 17, 2020.

The BFP created a Special Investigation Task Force to validate the report of the San Francisco fire bureau, which ruled that the fire stemmed from an “electrical ignition caused by loose connection.”

Citing that the engine, dashboard, fuse box and the interior are intact, Frasco had challenged the report, saying it defied physical evidence.

Supt. Fritzie Manatad, Cebu provincial fire marshal, formed the task force headed by Chief Insp. Tito Purgatorio following a directive from their regional director.

Manatad met with the congressman, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Cebu Police Provincial Office Director Roderick Mariano, San Francisco Mayor Alfredo Arquillano Jr, and BFP officials. Also in attendance were Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco and lawyer Elaine Bathan.

The governor had called for a meeting on Friday, Jan. 31, to discuss the incident, which the CPPO is also investigating.

Among the questionable lapses pointed out during the meeting was the five-hour delay in the local BFP’s response.

The incident was reported around 2 a.m. and yet the BFP did not arrive at the scene until 7 a.m. Also, the BFP did not take custody of the evidence, contrary to protocol in the BFP Operations Manual.

“There was obviously an undue haste in closing the investigation, considering that the PNP’s parallel investigation of the case is still ongoing,” Congressman Frasco cited.

He pointed out that the premature release of the final investigation report to media also violated BFP protocols.

Manatad assured that they are checking all angles. She disclosed that a separate investigation will be conducted on the matter.

In a Jan. 31 memorandum to SF04 Panfilo Caballes Jr., officer-in-charge of the San Francisco Fire Station, Manatad stated: “You are hereby informed that the findings of your final investigation report... is set aside effective today...” (PR)