Massive fire in Jolo, Sulu displaces 5,200 families

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) — Some 5,200 families were displaced while one person died after fires hit two seaside communities in Jolo, Sulu on Tuesday.

The fires razed about 2,500 houses, most of which are on stilts made from light materials.

According to initial investigations, the incident started at around 2:00 p.m. in Barangay Walled City and quickly spread to nearby communities, including the adjacent barangay of Bus-bus.

Authorities said the fires were caused by faulty electrical wiring and was worsened by the garbage and humid weather in the areas.

An official had previously dismissed speculations that the fires were intentional or a terrorist act.

"Nope, hindi pa na-determine ang cause but initial report sa may squatter area nag-umpisa mabilis nag spread out 'cause made of light materials mga bahay dun," BGen Divino Rey Pabayo, Commander of Joint Task Force Sulu said.

[Translation: Nope, the cause has not been determined, but an initial report said the fire started in a squatter's area and quickly spread because houses there are made of light materials.]

READ: Hundreds of families affected by Jolo fires

Officials estimated the damage cost at ₱0.5 billion.

They have also yet to verify the identity of the lone casualty.

About 700 of the affected families are currently staying in public spaces turned into evacuation centers while others are believed to be with their relatives and friends in other parts of the province.

Different government agencies have conducted relief operations, including the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao that distributed food and clothes airlifted using helicopters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

CNN Philippines' David Santos and Robert Vergara contributed to this report.