“Arson Has not Been Ruled Out,” GFD Says of Dededo Fire Where 1 Died


An autopsy will be conducted Tuesday. Until then, GFD says they cannot rule out arson.

Guam – The Guam Fire Department continues to investigate the cause of a house fire in Dededo early Saturday morning. Eight residents were able to escape, but one was not.


We spoke to the victim’s brother to find out what happened.

It began around 3 in the morning Saturday. Arnaldo Tapang says he awoke to some screams. He says he got out of bed and darted outside the house and found other residents trying to douse the blaze with water through a garden hose. But the fire continued to spread.


“And then I shout. My brother is inside. I call his name,” says Arnaldo.

At first, Arnaldo says he heard his brother’s voice, but he couldn’t tell from where the screams were coming.

“And then I call him again, his name. And then I heard ‘ahhh!’ The voice, I don’t know where is he because we cannot go inside. It was just too late already … that’s why I tried to go inside, but they stopped me because the fire is already spreading,” explains Arnaldo.


At one point, Arnaldo says the screams stopped.

“I thought, because when I’m yelling his name nobody is answering,” says Arnaldo, noting that he was hopeful that the silence from his brother meant that he was able to escape. 

To be sure, Arnaldo and the other residents who were able to escape notified incoming firefighters that the victim, Ernesto Tapang Jr., 45, may still be inside the house. 

“Tey got the best description of the last seen location, last known location. So our guys immediately suited up and went in. Our rescue guys they made entry. My understanding was that he was not at the location where they described and so they did an extended search and located the person and brought him out,” explains Guam Fire Chief Joey San Nicolas.

But by then it was too late.

“So lifesaving measures were withheld and patient was just guarded for further investigation,” say San Nicoals.

“An investigation is underway and it is pending just a few more information before they finalize the full investigation,” he notes. “Arson has not been ruled out. That said, we do not have a final determination.”

Guam Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola says the victim’s autopsy will be completed tomorrow.