Welding job triggers fire at XO Market building


A fire believed to be caused by welding work burned two apartment rooms atop the New X.O. Market in Gualo Rai on Saturday afternoon.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services has yet to release information about the fire.

Saipan Tribune, however, gathered that no one was injured in the blaze.

Witnesses said the two-hour fire started at about 2pm from a trash can of X.O. Market located in the back portion of the two-story commercial building. The store occupies mostly the first floor of the building. On the second floor are four apartment units, including two that were renovated because the roof was damaged by Typhoon Soudelor.

A staff of X.O. Market said two construction workers were doing welding work in one of the two apartment units that were damaged by the typhoon.

She said sparks from welding work fell onto the trash can on the first floor that was filled with garbage, triggering the blaze.

The workers tried to extinguish the fire in the trash can, but the blaze went up to the two rooms being repaired.

The store staff said she was working at that time when her co-worker shouted that there’s a big fire in the back. She said her co-worker called the police.

When police officers came, she said, they told them they need firefighters, not police.

She said an ambulance then arrived so they told them they need water, not medics.

The staff said firefighters later came, but there was not enough supply of water.

A woman who stays in one of the units on the second floor was seen crying at the scene. She said all her belongings and papers were inside her unit. Saipan Tribune later learned that her room was not burned.

Only the two rooms undergoing renovation located in the back portion were burned.

The X.O. Market shut down the store’s power and closed for business along with its laundry shop.

The fire damaged the store’s generator compressor. There was no damage inside the store.

X.O. reopened for business yesterday at noon. The laundry is expected to reopen today, Monday.

Fire investigators are still looking into the cause of the blaze.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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