AT LEAST 100 houses were reduced to ashes when a fire broke out in the interior portion of Sitio Tambisan in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City yesterday afternoon.

Cebu City Fire Marshal Esmael Codilla said they are looking into an unattended cooking and the illegal tapping of electricity as among the possible causes of the fire.

Codilla said Angel Tanaman, one of the fire victims, suffered a cut in his hand while trying to salvage his belongings.

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Damage to property was initially pegged at P900,000.

The fire department received the call for assistance at 4:03 p.m.

Because the fire scene was highly-populated, Codilla said he immediately raised the status to third alarm.

The firefighters battled the blaze for 40 minutes before it was declared under control.

The narrow access roads became the major problem encountered by the firefighters, Codilla said.

He said the fire scene is about 25 meters away from the main road and can only be accessed by pathways, making it difficult for the fire trucks to penetrate.

Left with no other choice, fire trucks from the Bureau of Fire Protection, Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation and the Filipino-Chinese Fire Brigade stayed on the main road while the firefighters connected all the hoses to get to the scene of the fire.

The fire reportedly started at the house of Annie M. Sembrano, who sells an exotic dish locally known as “lansiao.”

Codilla said he was able to talk with Sembrano to get her statement about the incident.

Based on Sembrano’s claim, a lighted cigarette butt, which was thrown to a pile of firewood she used for cooking, may have started the fire.

Sembrano told Codilla that she had just displayed the “lansiao” in her stall, which was about five meters from her house, when she noticed the firewood was on fire.

Codilla, however, said he still needs to verify Sembrano’s claim.

Codilla, however, said he is not discounting the possibility that the illegal tapping of electricity may have caused the fire.

He learned from initial information he gathered that illegal tapping was rampant in Sitio Tambisan.

Tisa Barangay Captain Eduardo Cabulao and Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama went to Sitio Tambisan to assess the situation and determine the immediate needs of the fire victims.

Rama ordered the social services offices to conduct an inventory of affected families so that food assistance can immediately be given to them.

Tents will also be provided to the victims, that would serve as their temporarily shelter. (JTG)