As the first day of the new year 2020 breaks, 15 Filipino nationals, 11 males and 4 females awoke to find their living quarters ablaze and ran out to safety, most without any of their personal belongings. Unfortunately for the 16th resident of the barracks, he did not make it out and perished in the fire. The barracks, located at Ochelochel, Airai are reported to belong to Galaxy Builders, a local construction company.
The deceased victim, identified by house mates as Rajelio Paberon,53 year-old male, did not respond to attempts to call him out of his barracks by the fleeing residents. One of the residents said they banged on his door but he did not respond to their calls. They said they had to flee due to the collapsing building and did not have to time to try and open his room.
Of the 16 people living in the barracks, 10 are employees of Galaxy Builders and 6 have different employers and are individually renting rooms in the barracks. The deceased individual, according to other residents, worked for Surangel & Sons Construction.
The 15 people who escaped the fire are currently staying at nearby buildings. They all say they lost all of their belongings including passports. Since the fire, their friends have brought them food and clothes to help them out while they sort themselves.
No official cause of the fire has been released and report from Ministry of Justice says the incident is still under investigation.
This would be the third fire to completely consume a residence in the last two months. On November 5th, 2019, 2 homes adjacent to each other in Ngaraard were also burned to the ground in early morning and two weeks later, a house in Ikoranges, Airai was also burned to the ground in the morning. There were no fatalities in the earlier fires. (Leilani Reklai & Kerdeu Uong)