By Martin Sadongdong
A commercial building owned by El Shaddai group leader Bro. Mike Velarde was razed by fire past midnight today in Parañaque City.
Superintendent Robert Pasis, Parañaque fire marshall, said the blaze started at 12:41 a.m. at the Grocery Keeper Cooperative owned by Velarde on Ambel Street, Barangay San Dionisio.
Pasis said the fire reached a canteen inside the building up to the adjacent Heavenly Inn Cafe and Restaurant.
The cause of fire is yet to be determined. It was put out at 3:54 a.m. after reaching the third alarm, Pasis said.
Although no injuries or fatalities were reported with about 100 tenants inside the building, Pasis said Velarde could face charges since there were no sprinklers in the establishment, according to initial investigation.
Velarde, in response, said he is planning to demolish the building and construct a call center office before the fire happened.
Aside from the grocery cooperative, an electronics store, office and an events place, where the “Family Appointment with El Shaddai” was supposed to be held today, were also destroyed by the blaze.
Rodante dela Cruz, an on-duty security guard, told arson investigators that he heard loud explosions before the fire.
Thinking there was a thief, Dela Cruz went inside the establishment only to find out the tenants and other guards rushing to get out of the commercial establishment.
Pasis placed at P2 million the value of destroyed properties but Velarde claimed the groceries inside the cooperative were valued at P10 million, while the 40,000 square- meter-warehouse itself was worth P40 million.