200 homes in Cebu go up in flames

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CEBU CITY -- Almost 200 houses were burned in the fire that swept through three sitios in Barangays Carreta and Tejero, in this city on Tuesday afternoon, damaging an estimated P1 million worth of properties.

The fire forced employees of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to evacuate their wards from an orphanage and move to their other building across the street.

A report about the fire, which broke out behind the DSWD compound, reached the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) at 3:26 p.m. Firefighters declared the flames under control at 4:35 p.m.

Classes in the Carreta Elementary School, located across the street, stopped and teachers instructed the children to go home early.

The fire also compelled traffic enforcers to close portions of General Maxilom and M.J. Cuenco Aves. to make it easier for fire trucks to reach the scene.

Cebu City Fire Marshal Senior Inspector Rogelio Bongabong estimated the damage to property at P1 million. He said the flames hit Sitios Laray and Caimito in Barangay Carreta and Sitio Tierra Cora of Barangay Tejero.

A fire that had left more than 2,200 persons homeless in Barangays Tejero and Carreta in August 2011 had also hit Sitio Tierra Cora. As for Sitio Laray, a woman and a two-year-old boy died in a fire that hit the same community last July 2000.

Bongabong estimated at least 100 houses were gutted by the fire, but Carreta Barangay Captain Eddie Lauron said that number may reach 200 houses.

“Mosubra gyud na sa 100 ka balay kay kay ang Sitio Laray maoy pinakadaghang botante (I’m sure more than 100 houses were burned, because Sitio Laray has the most number of voters in my barangay),” said Lauron.

As of Tuesday night, the Cebu City Government’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) was still consolidating the number of families and individuals displaced by the fire.

Bongabong said they had difficulty putting out the fire because of the low water supply in the hydrants near the fire scene.

The fire allegedly started in a bakery owned by Ponciano Barda, which is something investigators have yet to verify.

In a DyHP radio interview, Lauron said the fire may have been due to the rampant illegal connections in the area, but the BFP is still investigating what caused the flames to start.

Ponciano’s wife Hermogina Barda, 78, was on her way home in a jeepney from the Carbon area when she saw thick smoke. She thought the fire was in Barangay Tejero.

But when she arrived in Sitio Laray, Barangay Carreta, she saw the flames had devoured her house. She and her daughter immediately went looking for Ponciano, who is a paralytic, and were relieved when they learned that their neighbors had saved him.

Dr. Ester Concha, head of social services at City Hall, said they distributed packed lunch for the survivors. The families may temporarily stay in the Carreta gym and inside the Bagong Buhay Elementary School.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella also went to the fire scene, and Labella recommended re-blocking the affected areas to make them less vulnerable to fire.

As of last night, the City Government said it was providing the food and other basic needs of the survivors. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 11, 2013.

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