Working at the hotel poolside I noticed a bad smell and it looked like the patio was filling up with smoke. Other people were noticing it too and it was getting so bad that I had to close the laptop and go inside. The hotel was in the line of the fumes of a huge fire right behing the public market that is just across the street.
Sometimes the sun got blackened by all the smoke. And the whole street would turn invisible because of it.
I decided to go over there an have a look at how Iloilo city and fire brigades handles such a fire, remembering this post of a fire in Amsterdam and the impact it had in the cities traffic.
I as in for a surprise. People were so close to the fire, no streets were blocked for prevention, actually the crowd is assisting the fire brigade by shouting and pointing when they see flames, and by cheering when something goes wrong with the water hoses.
And the lack of water was painful at the beginning, it took a while before the water trucks arrived and the real extinguishing started. It took about two hours before the fire was under control and only then for the police to arrive and set out a safety line for the crowd to stay behind.
I’ve seen bravery: firemen going inside the building and coming out almost steaming hot. I’ve seen care-taking with colleagues cooling them down with ice and applying oxygen, I’ve seen the roof collapsing and all this while bad fumes were over the city and people were watching at close range. What a difference with the Netherlands where half of the city traffic gets interrupted and people are kept at safe distance. Here next door shops kept vending as if nothing happened. And in the end everybody was safe.
Still the fire was under control, adjacent buildings were saved and I definitely was impressed by the dedication and hard work of the heroes of the fire brigade of Iloilo.