Low on water, fire teams battle Lorega inferno

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014


CEBU CITY (Updated) -- At least five sitios were hit by a fire in a span of two hours in Barangay Lorega, Cebu City Tuesday afternoon.

Almost all of the houses in Sitios Itom Yuta, Kamansi, Lawis, Laguna and San Roque went up in flames, in the biggest fire so far this year.

Strong winds and low water pressure enabled the fire to spread quickly through houses made of light materials. Large fires have hit the barangay at least three times since February 2001.

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As of this posting Tuesday, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Central Visayas was still consolidating how many houses and establishments the fire hit.

The BFP admitted that many fire trucks lacked water because, just three hours before the fire in Lorega, most of them had rushed to another fire in Mandaue City.

Some firefighters also lamented that the water hydrants in the barangay were too far apart.

The BFP received the call for help at 4:47 p.m. By 5:24 p.m., the bureau raised the alarm to Task Force Alpha, then less than 15 minutes later, Task Force Bravo.

By 6:08 p.m., the fire bureau declared a general alarm fire, asking teams from the neighboring towns to help. Firefighters declared the flames under control, meaning these could no longer spread, at 7:25 p.m.

By then, hundreds of houses were gutted.

What they saved

According to Senior Fire Officer 2 Danny Relatado, the fire reportedly started in Sitio Kamansi, spreading to Lawis then to San Roque, going through Itom Yuta, then to Laguna.

Relatado said they are still investigating where the fire started in Sitio Kamansi; early reports pointed to a chapel or a house near the chapel.

“Tungod sa kadako sa sunog, dili ni dayon namo madali ug trace tanan hasta pag-ihap kung pila ka balay affected (This fire is so huge, it will take time to trace where it started or exactly how many houses it affected),” said Relatado last night.

Because the fire was widespread, it almost reached the center island on the main road in Lorega. There, survivors huddled among the belongings they managed to save.

Adelfa Miagao, 55, whose house in Sitio Kamansi was burned, said she had been suffering from arthritis, but when she heard about the fire, she managed to carry a two-door refrigerator out of the house and into the street.

“Wala ko kahibawo ug nganung sa tanan nakong makuha kani akong naalsa (I don’t know why, out of everything I could have saved, I carried this),” said Miagao.

Help

She said she was alone at that time and was waiting for her daughter to arrive from work.

Jorin Tormi failed to save her belongings, but managed to grab her two-year-old child.

She said that when she looked outside, their neighbors’ houses in Sitio Kamansi were already aflame.

Firefighters had difficulty putting out the fire in the interior portions of the barangay where the fire reportedly started, which caused it to spread quickly.

Fire trucks from as far as Liloan and Consolacion in the north and Minglanilla in the south responded.

Commuters sat through heavy, slow-moving traffic for almost five hours because Imus Road was closed to vehicles, while the firefighters did their work.

BFP Regional Director Maria Luisa Hadjula, who also went to the fire scene, suggested that water hydrants be placed in high-risk areas, so that firefighters won’t have to go too far to get water.

“We will see what we can do to address this problem para hindi na ito maulit (so this won’t happen again),” said Hadjula.

Mandaue fire

About three hours before the Lorega fire broke out, three surplus car shops and a restaurant were eaten by the flames that hit Barangay Casuntingan, Mandaue City Tuesday afternoon.

The Bureau of Fire and Protection in Mandaue City received the alarm at 2:55 p.m. and declared the fire under control at 3:45 p.m.

SFO1 Cipriano Codilla said the bureau still has to confirm how much property was destroyed and what caused the fire that struck F3 Surplus and JID Surplus, which burned down completely, and Pampa’s Grill and Restaurant, which was damaged.

One house was also damaged but firefighters controlled the fire before it could spread to other houses nearby.

Mandaue City Fire Marshall Joel Abarquez, in an interview, said they will also check if these establishments complied with fire safety regulations.

The fire was raised to Task Force Alpha, which meant that all the fire stations, including those from the neighboring cities, were supposed to respond.

None was injured. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 19, 2014.

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