The fire spread rapidly through the slum in Quezon city just outside Manila [Reuters] 

Thousands of families in the Philippines have been left homeless after a fire swept through a shantytown outside the capital Manila.

Local officials say at least 600 houses were destroyed by the fire in Quezon city, which began on Sunday afternoon.

No fatalities were reported but one person was hospitalised with first degree burns, and two others were reported missing.

Many of the residents said they were unaware of the fierce fire until their homes were already burning.

Intense blaze

Thousands have families are now homeless after the fire swept through the slum [Reuters]

The city's mayor said that schools would serve as evacuation centres for the homeless slum residents.

The blaze spread rapidly through the slum, fanned by strong winds and the intense summer heat.

Firefighters struggled to penetrate alleys, which were clogged by people trying to save their belongings.

Many residents wept as they watched their houses and their few belongings consumed by the fire.

"We failed to save anything except our clothes," Glen Sardon, a resident, told the Associated Press.

The fire occured hours after fire volunteers in the city held an event aimed at enhancing their skills in firefighting.

Fires are common in the metropolis of 12 million, especially in shanty areas where houses are densely packed together.

Source: Agencies