Fire razes southern Philippine shantytown

A huge fire swept through a slum overnight in a southern Philippine city, destroying more than 1,500 wooden homes but causing no casualties, officials said Friday.

Fanned by strong winds, the six-hour blaze quickly spread from one block to another, engulfing narrow roads and alleys of downtown Zamboanga city in a thick smoke before it was put out around 1 a.m. Friday.

Low water pressure from hydrants and inadequate equipment hampered firefighters, local fire chief Janice Espero said.

"The fire ate up an estimated six hectares (15 acres) of residential areas. It was the worst so far," said Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian, from Zamboanga, about 850 kilometers (530 miles) south of Manila.

Local officials converted four schools into temporary shelters for the thousands who were displaced.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, and officials estimated the damage at about 50 million pesos (US$980,000; Ђ 814,000), reports the AP.


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