San Nicolas inferno

SAN NICOLAS, Ilocos Norte – An old woman, her son and two grandchildren perished in a fire that burned their house in Barangay 1, here at past midnight of Oct. 17 Friday, report said.

Police identified the fatalities as Rosalina Capalungan, 90; her son Inocencio, 68; and her grandchildren BJ, 5; and Wince, 10.

Bureau of Fire Protection officials said the fatalities were sleeping in a room together when the fire broke out at dawn. The flame quickly burned the house as it was made of light materials and then it spread to the adjacent houses.

Their bodies were charred beyond recognition, firemen said. Inocencio and his two kids were found in arm embrace position near their room door when rescuers searched their remains among the debris. Perhaps, the three tried to escape but were trapped and suffocated, a rescuer said. “It’s horrible. All four were suffocated and roasted alive,” he added.

The fire also destroyed two other houses including the building owned by businessman Sherwin Capalungan. “Stock of school and office supplies, cash money, copier machines and other valuables inside my building were all burned,” he told reporters.

Firefighting units from Laoag City and nearby towns arrived at the fire scene and reinforced the San Nicolas firemen who responded earlier.
Police said that the BFP is conducting investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

However, initial finding showed the fire was said to have been caused by an unattended candle at the old woman’s makeshift altar.

The victims’ neighbors said Lola Rosalina usually lighted candles when praying rosary in the evening.

Estimated damage to properties was initially placed at P25 million. (Freddie G. Lazaro/Theo S. Guiang/BBR)