P109.55M lost in 2013 fires

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014


CEBU - Faulty electrical wiring proved to be the most common cause of fires in 2013, with 299 fires or 31 percent of 959 cases blamed on it by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Central Visayas.

Last year’s fires destroyed a total of 664 structures in Central Visayas, including 483 houses, 41 industrial buildings and factories, 18 commercial buildings or storage facilities, 27 mixed-use buildings, 12 detention or correctional facilities and two health care facilities.

Aside from faulty electrical connections, open flames due to unattended stoves and candles were also common causes of fire in the region, accounting for 116 incidents.

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The fires damaged P109.55 million worth of property.

The campaign for fire prevention is a regular activity of the BFP 7. But according to Insp. Eulalio Munez, chief of the Fire Safety Enforcement Section, Regional Operations Division, the communities are sometimes uncooperative.

“Wala mi nagkulang ug pahimangno ani nila, pero usahay kompyansa ra kaayo sila ug dili mi paminawon (We have done our best to warn them, but sometimes people get too complacent or refuse to listen),” Munez said in an interview yesterday.

Other causes of fire recorded by the BFP 7 last year were unattended cigarettes and matchsticks, with 65 and 56 cases, respectively. There were 21 fires whose causes were undetermined; the investigation is still ongoing in 134 cases.

Longer list

There were also more fires in 2013, from 639 cases in 2012.

Insp. Arra Alpajaro of the BFP 7 said, however, that the cases in 2013 increased because grass and rubbish fires were included in the list last year. These accounted for 90 cases.

The fires in 2013 caused 23 deaths and injuries among 59 civilians and 13 firefighters.

Most fires were classified as accidental, with 784 cases. But 36 fires were described as intentional, according to BFP 7 records presented during the Association of Government Information Officers (AGIO) forum yesterday.

In Cebu City alone, 48 fires that broke out in 33 barangays last year cost the City Government P31.7 million.

The amount was spent on packed meals, relief goods, housing materials, financial assistance and tents that served as temporary shelter for fire victims, records of the City’s Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) showed. 

18 so far

The fires occurred in Barangays Bulacao, Sudlon II, Basak San Nicolas, Budlaan, Capitol Site, Hipodromo, Talamban, Kamputhaw, Guadalupe, Quiot, Tabunan, Kalunasan, Sambag II, Apas, and Banilad. 

The others occurred in Barangays Sudlon I, Ermita, Pulangbato, Inayawan, Tisa, Labangon, Duljo Fatima, Calamba, Mambaling, Sawang Calero, T. Padilla, Kamagayan, Cambinocot, Tejero, Basak San Nicolas, Carreta, Kinasang-an and Parian.

This year, from January to February, the Cebu City Fire Department recorded 114 incidents, higher compared to the same period last year that had 47 cases.

The increase was also attributed to the inclusion of grass and rubbish fires.

Munez said that from the start of the Fire Prevention Month last March 1, 18 fires were recorded as of yesterday.

The 18th fire happened in Barangay Punta Princesa at 9:48 a.m. yesterday.

Fire investigators said the blaze damaged the home of Shanna Godinez in Sitio Bayabas.

Welding sparks from a house under construction behind Godinez’s place reportedly reached Godinez’s house and landed on the curtains and clothes, which then caught fire.

Two fire trucks quickly arrived in the area but Godinez’s neighbors had put out the flames before the firefighters arrived.

Injuries

An estimated P5,000 worth of property was damaged in the fire, which was classified as a first-alarm incident.

Last Monday, a man suffered injuries in a fire that hit Sitio Lahing-Lahing, Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City at 5:20 p.m., burning three houses and damaging five others.

Ricardo Sequiña, 46, was lacerated in his right foreleg after a sharp object hit him while he was trying to save some belongings.

He was given first-aid treatment.

During the incident, three houses burned down. Two of these belonged to brothers Rommel and Melvin Tanggol; a boarding house owned by Eduard Dampor was also destroyed.

FO3 Lowel Opolentisima, fire investigator, said that the cause of fire is under investigation.

Opolentisima said that the fire reportedly started in one of the rooms on the third floor of the boarding house and immediately spread.

Narrow roads

Nixon Cosep, a neighbor, said they destroyed the perimeter fence at the back of the area, near a condominium, just to let the fire truck in.

Narrow roads kept firefighters from immediately entering the area; they had to connect their hoses to reach the fire scene.

Opolentisima said they controlled the fire at 5:45 p.m. and declared it put out at 6:53 p.m.

He pegged the damage at P70,000.

A few minutes later, the condenser of an air conditioning unit owned by the Sterling Bank at the corner of Gen. Maxilom Ave. and F. Ramos Sts., Cebu City caught fire.

The air conditioner was outside the bank. A Cebu City Traffic Operations Management employee, Edilberto Ludovica, noticed it was on fire and alerted the bank’s employees.

He then got the fire extinguisher from the bank and put out the fire.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 12, 2014.

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