A FIRE ripped through a packed neighborhood in Barangay Bakilid, Mandaue City on Monday night, destroying some 100 houses and displacing hundreds of residents.
SFO3 Roy Garcia, chief investigator of the Mandaue City Fire Station, said at least P1 million in property went up in smoke during the blaze that broke out in Purok 2, Sitio Marfa.
The fire station received the call for help at 9 p.m. and hoisted the fire alarm to Task Force Alpha as the flames quickly leaped to other houses made of light construction materials.
Fire trucks from Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Consolacion and Liloan and fire brigades also helped get the fire under control, meaning it could no longer spread, after 41 minutes.
Garcia said the flames were completely out after five hours, and that firefighters made sure the embers would no longer rekindle, a process they call “overhauling”.
No one died, but some residents suffered minor injuries.
About 106 families were displaced, and the Bakilid Barangay Council declared the area under a state of calamity during a special session yesterday.
Survivors were asked to stay in the Bakilid Elementary School and barangay gym, for now.
Bakilid Barangay Captain Dionisio Villamor said an overcharged cell phone probably caused the fire. He said the barangay will use its P300,000 calamity fund to provide supplies the families need.
An initial investigation identified the house where the fire probably started; family members saw flames erupt near the comfort room, which is also located near the kitchen.
Garcia said the homeowner will be summoned, as investigators try to verify what caused the flames to start.
Narrow alleyways leading to the fire scene also made it hard for firefighters to quickly put out the flames. Fire trucks couldn’t immediately leave and make way for other teams.
What firefighters did, Garcia said, was conduct an “engine relay”, meaning water was pumped from one fire truck to another that was closer to the fire scene.
Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu Province, Sixth District) and Provincial Board Member Thadeo Ouano visited the area to check on the situation of the families.
Quisumbing distributed food packs and clothes to the affected families; he said he used personal funds for the assistance, and that he has stocked relief goods in his district office for emergencies like these.
Quisumbing is from Barangay Bakilid.
He called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7 to seek additional assistance for the survivors.
Ouano, a former mayor of Mandaue City, also asked the barangay captain to submit a complete report so that every affected family will receive aid.
Based on the Mandaue City Social Welfare and Services (CSWS) record, there were 47 homeowners and 59 tenants affected.
Violy Cavada, head of CSWS, said they will provide food for three days to the families.
The City Government will also distribute toiletries and kitchen utensils.
Villamor said it will take time before the families can go back to the area where they lived because it is a privately-owned lot.
He said they will also ask for the City Government’s help to relocate the fire victims.
In a separate interview, Gonzala Pelago-Jayme, owner of the lot and one of the survivors, said they will no longer allow anyone to stay in their property.
Jayme’s store and house were burned, including her tricycle, motorcycle and two videoke machines.
“Dali gyud kaayo ang kayo gabii unya dugay kaayo ang bombero (The fire quickly burned the houses and the fire truck came late),” Jayme said.
Jayme owns the 2,054-square-meter lot. She estimated that damage to properties reached at least P1 million.
Her son Randy suffered injuries when he tried to help stop the fire. He had stood on a neighbor’s roof, pouring pails of water on the burning house.
Randy reportedly jumped when he heard an explosion inside the house, and as a result, injured his feet.
Jocelyn Malinao, 30, married, said she was selling barbecue along the street when the fire started. Her house sat next to the property where the fire was believed to have started.
She said her family’s three motorcycles were not saved. She made sure the children were safe first.
Malinao said what they need right now are financial and medical assistance.