Months of complaints about the performance and response time of a local fire department escalated on Tuesday when a journalist was allegedly assaulted by a firefighter.
Miguel Gutiérrez, from the newspaper El Imparcial, reported that he was covering a fire at a mechanic’s shop on Calle 1a. Oriente Tuesday afternoon, which “fortunately only consumed a tarp, with no major consequences,” he wrote.
“What is striking is that, although firefighters were requested in time, they arrived at the scene after 45 minutes, when the incident had already been controlled,” continued his account of the events.
Upon their arrival, the firefighters began to ask questions about what had happened, taking pictures of the incident to fill out their report “and make believe that they had responded and put out the fire.”
As the journalist was documenting these events, a firefighter he identified as Israel Santos verbally assaulted him, only to then violently take his phone away.
After long tense moments, “the aggressor left the device and I was able to recover it.”
Gutiérrez wrote that a similar incident happened in Huatulco a few months ago, when a local journalist was assaulted by firefighters.
People in Puerto Escondido have been complaining for months about the Fire Department, the newspaper reported, claiming that they have not responded to emergency calls, even in the case of serious accidents.
The complainants said that when they have requested the assistance of the firefighters by telephone, they have been told to call the Civil Protection office of Santa María Colotepec or San Pedro Mixtepec instead.
Some citizens said that when the firefighters do attend a call for help, they do it late, up to 30 minutes or an hour after the incident, and only arrive to request information about the event and to fill out their report.
Gutiérrez wrote that he hoped that “with the arrival of the new state governor [to be sworn in on Dec. 1], the matter will be addressed and order will be reestablished in the regional fire departments, especially in those of the Coast, since their lack of support and assistance in the disasters that have occurred directly affects the citizens.”
With reports from El Imparcial