Manila Shantytown Swept by Fire; 1,000 Homes Lost

Associated Press

A fire described as the city's biggest since World War II swept through a crowded shantytown near an oil storage area today and destroyed more than 1,000 homes, the fire chief said.

At least four people were reported injured in the blaze, which spread thick black smoke over large sections of the capital. No deaths were reported.

The government-run Philippines News Agency said an estimated 3,000 families were left homeless.

Firefighters concentrated on preventing the flames from reaching the oil tanks rather than on saving houses, and angry residents responded by pelting the trucks with stones. They piled their belongings in the street and began fighting the blaze themselves with buckets of water.

The flames spread to within 24 feet of the state-owned petroleum company compound, said Col. Oscar Pascual, deputy fire chief. Fire Chief Brig. Gen. Ernesto Madriaga said a shift in the winds prevented the fire from reaching it.

The cause of the blaze has not been determined.

Hundreds of people huddled around the mounds of personal belongings as scattered fires continued to burn into the night.

There was no immediate estimate of damage. But Madriaga said the blaze was "possibly the biggest in Manila since World War II."

He said flames destroyed a candy warehouse and virtually every building in a 25-acre area along the Pasig River, which runs through the heart of Manila.

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