CEBU City’s Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) has assured that the 104 families displaced by a fire in Sitio Missionary, Barangay Suba last Monday evening can return to their homes.
Lawyer Meriam Consuelo Fernandez, DWUP head, said the fire site is a government-owned lot and is part of the City Government’s slum improvement and resettlement program (SIR).
SIR is a project initiated by the National Housing Authority, which had been turned over to the City. It has five beneficiaries: Barangays Suba, Pasil, Sawang Calero, Mambaling and Duljo Fatima.
Since the area razed by the fire is owned by the City Government, Fernandez said the affected residents may rebuild their homes as soon as DWUP deems the place safe.
Fernandez, though, said that the area still has to be surveyed if there is a need for a re-blocking.
“Perhaps the reason the fire was able to easily spread was that the houses were too close to each other. Most SIRs are accessible through footpath and the tendency is that there are no access roads for responders in times of disasters,” she said.
Should this happen, Fernandez said the property will be divided equally among the residents and they may no longer occupy the same lot areas that they previously did before the incident.
“The residents will have to sacrifice, so that the same incident will be prevented from happening again,” Fernandez said.
In the meantime, the affected families are staying in the local barangay gym and in the tents provided by DWUP.
In its investigation, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 7 is looking into three possible causes of the fire that burned 23 houses.
Chief Insp. Rogelio Bongabong Jr., Cebu City fire marshall, said they will invite Marife and Mario Espinosa, the owners of the house where the fire reportedly started.
“One report revealed that witnesses saw children playing with matchsticks; second was that someone was cooking and the third was about illegal electricity tapping,” Bongabong said.
The city fire marshall said that there was a delay caused by vehicles double-parked on the road going to the fire scene.
“We have no problem with the road because it was wide. However, there were vehicles, trisikads and a crowd as there was a mass during that time,” Bongabong said.
The city fire marshall said that the BFP 7 continued with its information drive for barangays about preventing fires.
“There should always be housekeeping. We shouldn’t stock things that are flammable,” Bongabong said. (RTF, JOB)