Officials: Cavite factory fire put out, all workers accounted for

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — After two days, the fire at the House Technology Industries (HTI) building in Cavite was finally put out at 4:15 p.m. Friday, the Bureau of Fire Protection said.

Cavite Gov. Boying Remulla also said Friday afternoon, based on the records provided by HTI, all 3,189 employees who were supposed to be at work when the fire started on Wednesday night have been accounted for.

As of 12 noon Friday, 41 victims are still in the hospital, the majority of them sustaining severe burns in 70 to 90 percent of their bodies.

Meanwhile, 81 have already been discharged; police investigators will interview them starting Saturday to find out if there was negligence on the part of HTI.

Authorities have not yet confirmed any deaths, but Remulla said it's likely that any casualties would be those who tried to get in to save other people.

Teams from the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) have not yet started retrieval operations, as structural engineers will first check if it's safe for people to get in.

Some parts of the building collapsed because of fire damage.

HTI meanwhile assured the provincial government that regular employees will be absorbed by the company. Contractual workers will also be absorbed if they will be needed for jobs. The company explained, some jobs are seasonal.

"They will absorb the workforce displaced by this," Remulla said. "Those that can't be absorbed will be absorbed by other sister companies. Yung hindi ma-absorb [Those who can't be absorbed] will be given usual salaries. They just have to show up."

Remulla assured the public that there is no cover-up going on in the investigation of the incident.

He has also withdrawn the move to declare a state of calamity, saying the provincial government still has sufficient funds for the victims.

Fire may be due to overheated installation

Remulla said an overheated installation machine may have sparked the fire on the first floor of the three-storey building.

He said the estimated damage is at ₱15 billion as the fire destroyed the showroom, administration office and insulation rooms of the six-hectare compound.

Factory employees reportedly heard a loud explosion from the molding area on the first floor at around 6 p.m Wednesday.

One of the employees, who refused to be named, said she was about to begin her shift when the smoke detector went off, prompting her to run for her life.

Another victim, Lumberto Escorido, had burns on nearly half of his body, said brother Adrian.

One woman waiting outside the compound said she and other people were looking for their relatives, fearing they might be trapped inside the building.

"May mga naghahanap sa loob, marami naghahanap... Tinanong ko mga empleyado ng HTI, meron daw talagang hindi nakalabas," she said.

[Translation: There are people looking inside; a lot of people are looking. I asked HTI employees and they said there really were some people who were not able to escape.]

CEZ: 'HTI is compliant'

Labor groups on Friday staged a protest at the Labor Department office in Intramuros, Manila, urging the government to investigate the fire.

Records show the HTI factory blaze was the longest fire in Cavite's history.

Cavite Economic Zone Administrator Norma Tañag said the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which manages the country's export processing zones, conducted its annual inspection in HTI last June 2016.

She said HTI was compliant with PEZA's safety requirements.

PEZA and the CEZ Investors Association will offer financial assistance to the victims and HTI will shoulder all the victims' expenses, Tañag said.

This is a developing story. Please refresh the page for updates.

CNN Philippines' Correspondents Yumi Lugod and Ivy Saunar contributed to this report.