ABOUT 150 homes caught fire in three packed communities in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City last night.

It took firefighters more than an hour to stop the flames from spreading because they had to connect several hoses to get closer to the burning homes.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) received at 5:28 p.m. the call for help in stopping the fire that eventually spread across three sitios—Tugas, Mangga and Delos Reyes.

Within 12 minutes, the BFP raised the alarm to Task Force Alpha, meaning fire trucks from neighboring cities were needed to assist Cebu City’s firefighters.

No one was injured.

Firefighters managed to put the fire under control, meaning it could no longer spread—at 6:33 p.m., after connecting several fire hoses to reach the interior community.

The fire was not yet put out as of 9:20 p.m.

Cebu City Fire Marshal Rogelio Bongabong Jr. lamented that the houses stood so close to each other and the area was in an interior portion of the neighborhood.

Pwerteng lisora, naglisod ta kay interior kaayo ang area, made of light material pa gyod ang mga balay (We had a lot of difficulty because the fire broke out in an interior area and the houses were made of light materials),” Bongabong said.

He said he wasn’t convinced that reblocking the area would be doable, considering that the shanties and houses had been built on swampy land.

Posible lang tingali maghimo tag agianan (It’s possible a road can be build there),” Bongabong said.

Children

Initial investigation showed that the fire may have started on the roof of Hazel Ceballos’s house in Sitio Tugas, a few minutes after her neighbors heard an explosion from an electrical post.

Bongabong could not estimate how much structural damage the fire caused as of last night.

Residents saved some of their belongings, although some expressed concern over the security of the things they had saved from the fire.

Divina Sab-a, one of the residents who lined up with their belongings on the road across their packed neighborhoods, said some of her male neighbors were securing the area from strangers who might take advantage and steal their things.

Sab-a, 39, said she rushed to get her young nieces and nephews out of the house when she heard the neighbors shouting about the fire. She also heard the explosion.

Naratol intawn mi, uy, naa pa gyod mi mga bata sa balay, unsaon na lang (We were unnerved, because we feared for the children in our house),” Sab-a told Sun.Star Cebu.

Students helped

One of the fire survivors, who asked not to be named in this story, said they may be temporarily made to stay in their barangay gym.

Josua Ronmiel Eras, a student, said that a firewall saved his school, the University of Cebu-Maritime Educational Training Center. The wall stood between the campus and the burning neighborhood.

Nagtinabangay pod mi og kuha sa fire hoses namo para makatabang pagpawong sa kayo, gipasulod man pod sa school ang mga responding fire trucks (We used our fire hoses to help fight the fire, and some responding fire trucks were allowed inside the campus),” Eras said.

Some classes were stopped when the fire broke out, he added.

Bongabong, in a separate interview, said that some of those who saw the post explode were called to visit the Cebu City Fire Department today to help figure out what caused the fire.

Rain, fire

Less than 24 hours earlier, fire razed a junk shop during a downpour, accompanied by thunderbolts, on J.P. Rizal St. in Barangay Basak, Mandaue City.

The junk shop was near a gasoline station, but the flames, fortunately, did not cross the highway during last Thursday night’s fire.

Alvin Abayan, who is 43 and the shop’s owner, believed it was the lightning that started the flames that destroyed appliances and three vehicles, TV5 Cebu reported.

Investigator SFO1 Ceferiano Codilla, however, said the fire was possibly ignited after a wire in the ceiling got soaked by rainwater.

An investigation to find out what caused the fire is still ongoing. Codilla estimated that some P300,000 in properties were damaged.

Carmel Botero, a junk shop worker, reportedly noticed the fire first and managed to rouse everyone from sleep.

No person was hurt during the incident, according to SFO1 Glenn Campilan of Mandaue City’s Bureau of Fire Protection.

Campilan, in a phone interview, said they received a call for help at 11:35 p.m.

More than 10 fire trucks responded to the alarm.

Campilan said the fire was placed under control after 20 minutes.

Firefighters completely put out the fire after two hours and 22 minutes, Campilan added.