CEBU -- Easter Sunday, for many families, meant frolicking on the beach to celebrate the end of Holy Week.
But some spent most of the day sifting through the rubble for what was left of their possessions.
One of them was the family of Gina Ariola, whose house was among those gutted by a fire in Sitio Mansanitas, Barangay Cogon Pardo, Cebu City.
The 46-year-old mother of five retrieved some clothes after the blaze that tore through their neighborhood, which destroyed 57 houses.
Firefighters couldn’t immediately stop the flames from snaking out to the other houses because the area was not accessible, said SFO3 Pier Angelo Abellana, investigator of the Pardo Fire Substation.
As of 7 p.m. Sunday, City Hall’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) recorded at least 138 families or 570 individuals were left homeless.
A reblocking plan that was planned before may now be implemented to prevent the same thing from happening again, said Cogon Pardo Barangay Captain Harry Eran.
“I hope they will also sacrifice for the greater good of the people,” he said.
Firefighters received the call for help at 12:06 p.m. and, considering that the neighborhood is closely-packed, raised it to a third alarm right away. It took 30 minutes to get the flames under control.
By then, however, the fire had swept through many houses that were mostly made of light materials. Damage to property was pegged at P200,000.
Abellana, when interviewed by reporters, said they had to connect at least 15 hoses to reach the site.
Narrow roads remain a challenge for firefighters, especially in places tucked in interior portions.
In the fire scene, men moved out appliances while women carried other household belongings. Children were quickly secured and old women held images of the Sto. Niño as they looked at the flames.
According to residents, Abellana said, the fire started in a woodcraft shop, whose owner the fire department will invite for questioning today.
Faulty electrical wiring is being considered as a possible cause.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said that the City will discuss the reblocking plan with barangay officials.
Rama also assured that the families will be given food by the DSWS and allowed to stay temporarily in the schools of Pardo and Inayawan.
“Everything must be put in place there,” Rama said.
DSWS Chief Ester Concha said they already distributed food packs to the families, which is a standard procedure for City Hall after a fire.
In a meeting he called yesterday after the fire, Rama asked some of the department heads to help by extending their services to the fire survivors.
Food, water, portable toilets and some kitchen utensils, among others, were distributed to the families.
City Administrator Lucelle Mercado said most families were housed temporarily in the Inayawan Elementary School, which is closer to the fire scene.
“Their homes were situated on the boundary of Barangays Inayawan and Cogon Pardo,” Mercado said.
Mercado said that the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor will also conduct an inventory at the fire site today, to verify whether or not the property is privately or publicly owned. (Sun.Star Cebu)