The Bureau of Fire Protection only has one Arson Laboratory in the whole Philippines.
Any evidence in a fire from any part of the country that needs to be investigated upon would still have to be sent to the Arson Investigation Unit in the BFP main office.
The Arson Electrical Division, being manned by electrical engineers, look into the various cables, appliance motors such that of electric fans, and machines used on generators that are submitted as evidence.
They will determine how these items got burned and if they had been the cause of the fire.
Probing these pieces of evidence in a fire is not an easy job as almost all pieces submitted to the Electrical Division are already beyond redemption.
The BFP admitted that although they have magnification devices, they still need an electron microscope.
On the other hand, accelerants or chemicals that could easily cause fire are being handled by the Arson Chemical Laboratory.
The BFP personnel assigned in this unit have science background.
They use state-of-the-art gas chromatography machine that costs 10 million pesos.
The gas chromatography machine can check even the ashes that remained in the fire.
Insp. Ferlyn Cabral, the Chief of the Forensic Chemistry Unit of the BFP said, “kapag sinalang po dito sigurado po kaming makakakuha pa kami kasi parts per million yung sensitivity po. Bale dito po kasi i-subject natin sa heat through sa head space tapos hihimay-himayin po siya up to the molecular level, tapos inject po sa GC para maidentify po natin kung ano ang meron dun na flammable substance.
[we are sure that we can find something as (the machine’s) sensibility measurement is at ‘parts per million’. We subject (the item) to heat through a headspace and we break it in tiny pieces up to molecular level, then we inject them to the GC so we can identify what’s in the flammable substance].”
The BFP is undergoing modernization not just on firetrucks but also on new technological equipment of arson investigators.
BFP Spokesperson F/C Insp. Jude Delos Reyes said the modernization is for them to become a competent fire protection agency that don’t just base their analyses on hearsay but on science. – Maris Federez (with details from Mon Jocson)
The Star City management on Sunday (October 6) said they were not aware of any motive that would “induce the commission of arson.”
This is in response to the statement of the Bureau of Fire Protection maintaining the possibility of arson in the Star City fire.
Pasay City Fire Marshall Superintendent Paul Pili said arson might be the possible cause for the rapid spread of fire at Star City on Wednesday (October 2) morning.
The BFP also found traces of gasoline in unusual places as well as the suspicious entry of unidentified personnel carrying bags of cotton.
However, in a statement, Star City officials said it is not unusual for persons to bring cotton in the establishment.
“That there were some persons that brought in cotton is NOT unusual because cotton filling is being used to stuff toys redeemed in games. In fact, most if not all of the stuffed toys are filled with cotton. Almost all theme parks, including those outside of the Philippines, sell or give as prizes, stuffed toys in the ordinary course of their business,” according to the statement.
“There is gasoline inside the Star City Complex because there is a ride that runs on gasoline particularly the Bumper Boat,” the statement further reads.
The management also said it was ‘inappropriate’ to release statements to the media first regarding arson as the cause of the fire.
“We feel that it was inappropriate, to say the least, to release statements to media first regarding arson as the cause of fire when the investigation is not clearly concluded and before taking up such matter with Star City’s Management, the principal party concerned,” according to the management.—AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)
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