ILOILO CITY -- A 48-year-old woman died and hundreds of families were left homeless in a fire that razed houses in Barangay Nabitasan, La Paz District in this city, early Saturday.

Authorities identified the fatality as Trinidad Formacion, who was trapped inside her house amid the billowing fire and suffocating smoke.

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Her charred body was recovered at the comfort room of her house following a mopping-up operation, which lasted until sunrise Saturday.

Neighbors believed that Formacion decided to hide inside the comfort room with the hope that she might be rescued by the responding firefighters.

Volunteer rescuers and firefighters who scoured the flattened residential area for possible victims also found several charred pigs and chickens among the debris.

Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) officials said a total of 112 houses were destroyed and two others were damaged in the fire that broke out while the city is celebrating the Dinagyang Festival.

Damage to property was placed at P1 million.

As of this posting Saturday, police are still looking into reports that the fire, which was placed under control at past 2 a.m., started at an old house whose occupants were not around when the incident happened.

The blaze then rapidly spread to adjoining houses mostly made of light materials before responding firefighters and volunteer fire brigades from the Filipino-Chinese community with augmentation fire trucks from several municipalities in Iloilo arrived.

Authorities said the fire, the biggest to hit Metro Iloilo this year, leveled the array of houses situated near the Iloilo River just across the Jalandoni Bridge.

Even the house of Nabitasan village chief Noriel Arsolo was not spared by the blaze.

According to reports Saturday, most of the house owners were not around as they were in the city center attending the Dinagyang Festival in various venues when the fire broke out.

The displaced families are now taking temporary shelter at the Nabitasan Elementary School.

Emergency relief assistance from the city’s Social Welfare and Development Office was already provided to them. (PNA/Sunnex)