Several boarding houses razed by a fire that erupted in Barangay San Nicolas, La Paz district, Iloilo City on Feb. 18 were found to be operating illegally.

According to the city government’s Business Process and Licensing Division (BPLD), three boarding houses lacked permits to operate and two failed to renew their permits.

The blaze that escalated to the fourth alarm gutted seven boarding houses and claimed the lives of a student and a business process outsourcing (BPO) worker.

The fatalities — identified as call center agent Lyn Rose Sobretodo, 26, of Pototan, Iloilo and civil engineering student Renz David Aguilar, 21, of Concepcion, Iloilo — were staying in one of the three boarding houses without business permits.

Fire investigators said the victims, believed to be fast asleep in their rooms when the blaze broke out, were trapped on the third floor of their boarding house.

In a statement, City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he has instructed the Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO), Local Economic Development and Investment Promotion (LEDIP) and the Boarding House Commission (BHC) to “conduct inspections and give reports” to him.

“Those operating without valid business permits will be given closure orders immediately,” he stressed.IMT