Cebu village fire affects 27 families-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
CEBU CITY (Updated) -- Estela Arbiol was in a furniture factory near her house in Barangay Carreta, Cebu City Sunday afternoon when she heard the sirens of fire trucks.
She left her work when she saw people running. Then she noticed black smoke coming from her neighborhood in the interior Sitio Bagong Buhay.
Arbiol, 33, said she ran home but failed to get near her house because it was too hot.
“Mora gyu’g impiyerno (It was like hell),” she said.
When she learned nothing remained of her house, she cried.
Carreta Barangay Chief Eduardo Lauron said they will release their calamity fund to help the victims, who were temporarily sheltered in the gym. He said the lot is owned by the National Housing Authority (NHA).
“This sitio was not hit by fire before,” he said in Cebuano.
The neighboring Sitio Ponce was ravaged by fire two years ago.
As of last night, there were 27 affected families, said Carreta Councilor Renato Mabute Jr.
Fire investigator Emiliano Daño told reporters the fire destroyed 18 houses and damaged two others.
The damage to properties was pegged at P250,000. The possibility of faulty electrical connection is being looked into by investigators as the cause.
Arbiol and other residents said the fire originated in the house of James Michael Durano, 39, of City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) office.
They said they heard a blast and then they saw flames quickly spreading to other houses, which were mostly made of wood.
Durano’s uncle Vicente Durano, 67; Arnulfo Pabilic, 32; and John Rey Paul, 14; suffered burns in different parts of their body, said Daño.
Ryan Borres, 22, and a relative Jeodorico Borres, 29, suffered cuts in their feet from broken jalousie blades. They were not wearing slippers when they helped put out the fire.
Before the fire broke out at 2:18 p.m., Durano said, he was relaxing with his four children on the porch of their two-storey house.
He heard a stray cat making noise. Then he saw drops of water. Then he heard explosions like those of firecrackers, he said.
Durano later saw smoke coming from the ceiling of her mother Florencia’s room. When he went inside, the bed was on fire. Florencia was out to hear mass that time.
Durano dragged the bed outside.
“Tabang! Tabang mo! Nasunog amoa (Help! Help! Our house is burning),” he recalled shouting to his neighbors.
He came back to the house and saw the flames coming out the window of his mother’s room. Durano secured his children.
Vicente said he was jolted from his sleep by screams.
Since he is slow, the fire caught up with him. Neighbors helped him.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama visited the fire scene and told reporters he might widen the road in the sitio.
Operations officer Alvin Santillana, of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC), said Lauron told him the NHA has a site plan, which showed the original road plan for Sitio Bagong Buhay.
“We will look into the possibility of road restoration,” he said in Cebuano. “This is for the general safety of the public.”
Lauron said firefighters connected hoses so they can penetrate the sitio’s inner portion.
Fire trucks and ambulances were parked near the gym 20 meters from the fire scene.
At 2:54 p.m., firefighters controlled the fire.
Resident Eboy Guzman said their sitio is prone to fire because the houses are close to each other and the roads are narrow.
Arbiol said their house was standing in the lot since the 1970S. She said she felt devastated that it was gone in 36 minutes.
Not a single clothing, appliance, document and savings of her mother placed in a box were saved, she said. But no one in her family was hurt.
“Balik mi sa uno ani (We will have to start from scratch),” she said. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2013.