MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A huge fire, believed to have been ignited by firecrackers, razed hundreds of shanties in a creekside slum in metropolitan Manila Thursday in one of more than a dozen fires reported across the country as Filipinos welcomed the New Year.
Village officer Noel Carino said the fire, apparently sparked by firecrackers set off by children, erupted after dawn and was spread quickly by strong winds through nearly a kilometer-long (half a mile-long) row of shanties in a village in suburban Quezon city. Firefighters struggled to get near the burning shanties because of narrow alleys.
"It's really a tragic way to welcome the New Year," Carino said.
Residents struggled to save anything they could from the fire, including pet cats and dogs, with many using improvised floating devices to cross a murky river to escape from the fire.
Firefighters said hundreds of small shanties were destroyed, displacing thousands of poor families.
Bureau of Fire Protection spokesman Renato Marcial told ABS-CBN TV network that at least 14 fires were reported across the country as Filipinos ushered in 2015 with raucous parties.
At least seven people perished in two of the fires, Marcial said, adding some of the fires were thought to have been caused by firecrackers.