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The Bureau of Fire Protection National Headquarters (BFP-NHQ) has established that the blaze that devastated the Baguio City public market on March 11, 2023, was an accidental fire triggered by embers from an unattended or discarded cigarette. This was revealed in a final investigation report whose excerpts were shared with Mayor Benjamin Magalong by City Fire Marshal Supt. Marisol Odiver in a letter dated June 14, 2023.

The embers made contact with readily combustible materials at the base of a sack of clothes, leading to combustion. This happened near a concrete column at Stall no. B 46 in the market. The bureau has concluded this based on evidence gathered at the scene, corroborated by witness statements and an analysis of other surrounding circumstances.

Photo by: Kristel Ventura via SaBaguio FB Group

“After a thorough examination of the facts of the case and the completed Fire Cause Determination and Analysis, this fire incident with Case Nr. BFB FAID-2023-MR-011 is recommended to be considered CLOSED and SOLVED for being ACCIDENTAL IN NATURE, without prejudice to reopening of the case in circumstances where new pieces of evidence and/or a witness may surface in the future,” the report stated.

In the course of the investigation, the bureau ruled out other potential causes such as energized electrical conductors, appliance malfunction or machinery overheating, industrial hot works, open flame from cooking and lighted candles, and frictions and mechanical sparks. This is due to their nonexistence in the area of the fire’s origin at the time of the incident, reinforced by an Electrical Report from the Fire Laboratory Services.

The fire’s point of origin was identified at the base of the concrete column, at the north corner of Stall No. 46 located at Block 4 extension, through a methodical fire scene investigation, evaluation of witness testimonies, and technical/forensic analysis.

The bureau conducted the investigation following the accepted standards of fire and arson investigation procedures, referring to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 921: Guide for Fire Explosion Investigations- 2021 Edition and other references of equal field study.

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