Davao Fire: Firefighter grieves, he fails to save friends

Responder Ipe Alino.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — “I am a firefighter by choice … a lifesaver by destiny,” This how responder Ipe Alino described his life, his passion and vocation.

It was a call of duty, when he and his team responded to the morning fire at the NCCC Mall Davao eve of Christmas day, a conflagration which claimed 37 lives, including two of his friends.

36 bodies identified

This is his story as he posted on Facebook:

The NCCC Mall of Davao.

“At the first hour, my team was at the site of the fire that engulfed NCCC Mall. Every minute thereafter was spent fighting to suppress the fire and trying our best to gain access to where the trapped agents reportedly were.

We focused all our attention to achieve these goals, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Thirst, hunger and extreme exhaustion came a very far second to our need to save every life we could. The few seconds we could spare were spent calling our families to assure them that we were still alive and safe … and after tearful and fearful goodbyes from our loved ones, we went right back to fighting the nightmare that threatened to take away our friends, relatives, co-workers, our fellow Dabawenyos.

Our team, together with other agencies made several attempts to gain access and I was on two of those. I had on all of my PPE but I could feel the heat engulf my entire body through it. The air scalded the insides of my nose and my skin felt like it would fall off at any moment. But that was not even the worst of it. The worst feeling of all was knowing that with every second that passed, lives may be fading away …

We crashed through concrete and cut through steel … worked till we bled. We gave it our all … to the very end.

At the end of that fight, I was informed that two of the trapped agents were friends of mine. Mikko Demafeliz and Alex Moreno. I was also informed that, as of this morning, they are the last two that have yet to be identified. I never knew sadness could go this deep.

Yes we also responded at the flood incident the night before the NCCC fire. (Halos walang tulog)

It was by protocol and by choice that I remained safe … so that I could fulfill my destiny and live to save another life.

May the souls of the victims rest in peace and may God bless us all.” Alino Prayed.

Three separate investigating bodies will probe the incident.-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph