STUDENTS and other residents of Sitio Freedom rushed home at noon yesterday but for most, there was nothing but debris left.

Sophomore criminology student Hannah Querubin said she could not believe she and her family would have to sleep elsewhere, along with other victims.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

“Sa mga sunog sa una di gyod maapil amoa, karon pa (Our house was always spared from fires that occurred before),” she said.

Portions of Sitio Freedom and two other sitios went up in smoke as the flames raged for nearly two hours. Three other sitios were wiped out.

“We didn’t expect our house would be hit by the fire,” said Rochell Querubin, a junior student of Tejero National High School and a resident of Sitio Freedom.

Her younger sister Jassel Jane, a fifth-grader, said she was shocked. “Wa pa mi kahibaw asa mopuyo (We don’t know yet where we will live),” she said.

For Zipporah Duria, a student of Palompon Institute of Technology, the barangay was a temporary home, while she pursued an internship in a Cebu City-based television station.

She lost all her money and clothes. She is scheduled to go home to Leyte this week.

“I don’t know what to do now,” she said.

DyHP radio reporter Paul Lauro also lost his house.

“Lahi ang experience sa masunogan kay sa mag-cover lang og sunog (It is such a different experience to be a fire victim than to merely cover a fire),” he said.

Homicide chief Senior Insp. Vicente Velasquez’s house was spared, but the house of his parents was not.

Fr. Carmelo Diola said two Dilaab volunteers also lost their homes.

Lydia Briones, 69, said it was the first time she lost anything in a fire since she was born on F. Villa St.

“Karon pa nahitabo, guol kaayo ko dong (This is the first time this has happened to me. I’m very sad),” she tearfully said.

Her neighbor, Felicity Solon, added all she saved were her important documents.

But while most of the residents were busy saving what they could from their homes, some kept busy making a living.

A few men walked among the fire victims, selling bottled water, bananas and cell phone SIM cards. One man sold bottled water at P15, about P5 higher than the usual price.

The SIM-card dealer, who identified himself only as Isko, sold his cards at a “promo rate” of P10. He didn’t jack up the price.

“Nidoble ang halin. Daghan namalit kay para text sa ilang pamilya (My sales doubled.

Many bought cards so they could text their families),” he said. (KAL)