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55 families lose homes in Casco Viejo blaze

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55 families lose homes in Casco Viejo blaze

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AT LEAST 55 families were affected by a fire that destroyed three restored buildings in Casco Viejo on Wednesday, afternoon, February 21. Firefighters were hampered by illegally parked cars and low water pressure.

The three houses in Plaza Herrera, formed the Boyacá house, a  triangular structure built in 1890 and restored in 2005 under the supervision of Spanish and Panamanian architects. Neighboring buildings were also affected by the blaze, which took an hour to control.

Many of the residents had been rehoused in the structure after being evicted from other buildings in the area. It was located between Avenue A and 11th Street.

Police, who cordoned off the area to protect rubberneckers, arrested a man trying to steal belongings of the newly displaced victims which had been carried on to the street.

Jaime Villar, general director of the Fire Department, said they had problems with water pressure and badly parked vehicles that made extinction work difficult (see video).

The cars were removed and towed.




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21 minutes ago, Moderator_02 said:

 triangular structure built in 1890 and restored in 2005 under the supervision of Spanish and Panamanian architects

We did a tour of Casco Viejo and our tour guide said this landmark wood building now houses senior citizens with no other place to live. Sad!

The moving of the car by all those folks is something!

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Call for ‘Fire routes’ in Casco Viejo

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THE DESTRUCTION  of three historic buildings, in a fast-spreading fire in Casco Viejo on Wednesday, February 21  has renewed calls for the creation of a vehicle-free access route for emergency services.

Firefighters were hampered by illegally parked cars – one in front of a fire hydrant –  forcing first responders and residents to manhandle them away from the area. Low water pressure was an additional problem.

A fire route has been a  long-standing demand from residents whose pleas have been overlooked by successive governments.

The fire started around noon in the  Casa Boyacá built in 1890 and spread to the Casa Rosada andCasa Francia also built in the last decade of the nineteenth century.

The historian Rommel Escarriola said that the structures were on one side of the Baluarte Mano de Tigre and formed part of the wall that surrounded the city of Panama,

Katti Osorio the former Director of Historical Heritage of the National Institute of Culture (INAC) said that the  surrounding area  is part of the Monumental Complex of the Old Town, but Casa Boyacá Casa Francia  house are cataloged as “first order”, that is, they have the same value in terms of care and conservation that should be given to a  national historic monument. the name Boyacá was given in reference to the triangular shape of the building similar to the prow of a ship, specifically a Colombian gunboat from the time of the War of a Thousand Days.

Escarriola and Osorio agreed that the authorities have a duty to build an exact replica of the property.

Ángel Delgado, of the Fire Department, said that the causes of the fire are unknown, but a preliminary report should be ready Friday.

The Ministry of Housing and Land Planning said that 40 families made homeless will be given temporary accommodation until they can be permanently resettled in the area.

The Joint Task Force reported that there were no fatalities but several people were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

Neighborhood pleas
Patrizia Pinzón, of the Casco Neighborhood Friends Association, said that for several years they have insisted to the different governments that a “well made and well maintained” evacuation route is urgently needed so that the main streets are free of vehicles. Pinzón said it is “unusual” that the authorities have not addressed the issue.



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Prosecutor Investigating Casco Fire

REMAINS of historic buildings
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THE PUBLIC Prosecutor’s Office (MP)  has opened a preliminary investigation into the causes of the fire in Casco Viejo that destroyed three historic buildings.

The MP announcement was made Friday, February 23, two days after the devastating fire that left some 40 families homeless.

According to a statement, the  Primary Care Section of the MetropolitanOffice of the Prosecutor is in charge of the diligence.

The causes of the fire are also being investigated by the Panama Fire Department.

On Wednesday, February 21, fast-moving flames spread consumed Casa Boyacá, Casa Francia and Casa Rosada, also known as the “Little Presidency.”

“The Prosecutor is awaiting reports made by the experts of the Explosives Section of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, together with inspectors of the National Directorate of Fire Safety, Prevention and Research of the Fire Department,” said the MP.

In addition, they await the report of interviews conducted with witnesses, who reported how the disaster began.

The fire consumed the three buildings in little more than an hour. They were built in the early 1890’s and rehabilitated in 2005.



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Benefit concerts for fire victims

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Two benefit concerts are being organized by the Danilo Peréz Foundation for the families who lost their homes and possessions in the fire that destroyed Casa Boyacá and two other buildings in Casco Viejo on Feb.21.

The concerts will be on the March 1 and 15 in Villa Agustina, Casco Viejo, at 8:00 p.m. and the entrance will be a minimum donation of $10.

Both concerts will have the participation of national artists, like Luis Carlos Pérez Quintet, Los Grandchildren of Jazz, Idania Dowman, Take you to Mars and Latin Connection, among others.

All performers are donating their talent in solidarity with the 40 affected families.

The Foundation said on Monday, Feb 26, that they will continue receiving donations at the headquarters of the institution to assist families. Primarily they need infant formula milk, dry foods, contributions in cash, a wheelchair and shower for an older adult.

They announced that musical instruments for youngsters Oliver Mall, Michael Talavera and Luis Ángel Navarro -all students of the Foundation- were provided by the Municipality of Panama, after their personal instruments, were destroyed by the fire.



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