3 blazes in 4 days in Metro Cebu

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

CEBU -- Last Thursday, Evelyn Albiso bought some ingredients for the food she would prepare for her family on Christmas Eve.

When a fire struck Sitio Lemonsito, Barangay Umapad, Mandaue City, early Friday morning, the goods went up in smoke, along with their house.

Albiso, 38, a factory worker in the Mactan Economic Zone, said she was still asleep when the fire broke out past 5 a.m. Her husband, who was preparing to leave for work, woke her up and their 18-year-old daughter.

They ran outside with only their television set and a few other things.

The fire wiped out 40 houses in the congested neighborhood in less than an hour.

It was the third fire to hit Metro Cebu in four days. Two previous fires that hit parts of four Cebu City barangays have left at least 2,300 persons homeless.

[Read stories of the fire incidents in: Barangays Carreta and Tejero fire and Barangays Quiot and Kinasang-an]

The Mandaue City Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) received the fire alarm on Friday at 5:30 a.m. and declared the fire under control in less than 30 minutes.

Fire investigators said the blaze started in the house of Elsa Manuel, 61, whose adopted son allegedly caused the fire by throwing an oil lamp onto a pile of dry rags.

From their house, the fire quickly spread, and was stopped two houses away from the newly-renovated barangay hall.

John Michael, 21, believed to be suffering from a mental problem, was reportedly mauled by angry fire victims. He suffered first-degree burns on his forearms. Apart from him, no other resident was reported injured.

An initial report of the BFP said the fire destroyed about 25 houses, but the City Social Welfare Services (CSWS), which surveyed the area shortly after the fire, said 40 houses were gutted.

Fire investigators estimated the cost of damage at P300,000.

The CSWS distributed meals to 54 displaced families and 14 renters.

The affected families were temporarily housed in the classrooms Opao Elementary School, which cancelled its classes Friday.

The CSWS will distribute relief goods to the fire victims today, Saturday.

Albiso said she and her family may set up a temporary shelter made of tarpaulin at the site of their burned house.

She has lived in the place since she was three. Her family rents the lot where they built their house.

They still don’t know when they can start rebuilding their house, she said. “Mag-agad lang gyud mi ani sa kwarta (It depends on how soon we can raise enough money),” she said. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 14, 2013.

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