CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, August 7 —Two people were killed when a fire struck a school building housing an art gallery at Capitol University (CU) in Barangay 23, Monday morning.
Authorities identified the victims as Bryan Solarte and Dave Marvin Ramoga, 27, both residents of Barangay Lapasan, this city.
Solarte, sources said, was a high school student who worked part-time as Ramoga’s assistant. Solarte’s age was not yet determined.
Both were working as construction painters at CU and were hired by the school on an on-call basis when renovations are needed, police said.
Dr. Christian Caballes, Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) medico-legal officer, said it was possible that Solarte and Ramoga died from suffocation first before being burned from the fire.
Caballes said the two, who were identified thru their identification cards found on their wallets, suffered third-degree burns.
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has yet to release an official finding but initial reports point to the cans of paint thinner, a highly-flammable chemical, as the cause of fire.
Nicolas Aca, the gallery curator at CU’s Museum of Three Cultures, said some paintings at the gallery were damaged due to the fire, which was neutralized after about 30 minutes.
“They (victims) were doing some renovations at the gallery when the fire happened,” Aca said in an interview.
Aca said the artifact exhibits were spared from the fire, but the CU administration has temporarily closed the museum to the publice.
He said students were told to go home as classes were suspended on Monday. Classes will resume Tuesday.
The Museum of Three Cultures is located at the ground floor of a four-story building. Beside it is the school canteen with rows of stalls selling various food items.
Love Joy Presbitero, 24, a store attendant at the canteen, said she heard a loud explosion prior to the fire.
“It (explosion) was so loud that the glass on the door shattered,” she said, adding that black some was coming out from the gallery a few minutes later.
Ramoga’s live-in partner Shiela Marie Decina, 23, said she could not believe that her live-in partner was dead.
Decina, who’s pregnant for nine months and is due to give birth on the third week of August, said she depended Ramoga for their livelihood.
School officials have yet to issue a formal statement regarding the incident.