RAIN WATER dripping into calcium carbide (kalburo) being used to ripen fruit in a Virac bodega sparked a minor fire last Christmas day that sent firemen into action.
Fire arson investigator FO2 Dennis Tadoy said that at 8.50am of Dec. 25, FO1 Juvy Ann Bonaobra of the Virac Fire Station received a text message from a certain Roquesa Sarmiento that a fire was ongoing at barangay Concepcion.
The station immediately dispatched two fire engines manned by duty personnel to the residential building being used as a storage room by its owner, Virginia Benavidez.
The firemen found the blaze still in its initial or incipient stage and extinguished it, with the incident causing damages of more or less P5,000.
Initial investigation showed that the fire originated from a stack of fruits filled with “kalburo” and located at the left side of the stock room. Rain water dripping from the roof accidentally dropped into the chemical powder, causing a spontaneous chemical reaction that ignited.
Mainly used in the production of the flammable gas acetylene, calcium carbide (CaC2) is used in some countries, including the Philippines, as an artificial ripening agent.
But the use of the chemical as a ripening agent is banned in many nations as industrial-grade calcium carbide contains traces of phosphorus and arsenic, which makes it a human health concern.
The main ripening agent legally used by fruit exporters is the chemical ethylene which is sprayed on the green fruit prior to packing and shipping. – Catanduanes Tribune