FIRE destroyed 20 houses and left 80 persons homeless in Sitio Ibaan, Barangay Banilad, Cebu City Saturday afternoon.

It also set a billboard on fire, which later toppled on top of the burned houses.

Most of the affected houses were made of light materials.

No one was hurt.

Firefighters received the alarm at 2:42 p.m. and placed the fire under control at 3:17 p.m.

The fire caused heavy traffic on Archbishop Ave., heading to Banilad for nearly three hours, according to the City Traffic Operations Management.

Fire Investigator Nick Ouano said fire trucks from Cebu City and neighboring cities responded to the alarm.

He said they had a hard time getting to the scene, since the fire took place in an interior portion.

Tales of survival

As of press time yesterday, Banilad Barangay Captain Nicolas Leyson Jr. said the fire affected around 60 families.

Damage was estimated around P200,000.

Jezrel Manuca, a call center agent, said she woke up around 2:30 p.m. and noticed that her room was dark. She thought it was already night time.

“Huge flames greeted me when I opened my door,” she said in Cebuano.

Manuca was able to escape, but she failed to save her belongings.

“I just ran because I didn’t want to be trapped inside,” she said.

Vicky Odeza, who owns an eatery, said she was cooking when she heard someone scream “fire.”

She said she immediately brought her three kids safely outside.

Conflicting reports

The fire razed her house.

Based on initial investigation, the fire started in the house of Raymond Bindo.

However, Raymond’s wife Melissa denied the report.

She said the fire started in an eatery owned by Isabel Rosales.

Melissa said she saw flames engulf the second floor of Rosales’s eatery before it reached their house.

Ouano, for his part, said they have yet to determine the cause of the fire.

Leyson said the victims will be temporarily housed in the barangay’s gym located a few blocks from the scene.

He said he and the Barangay Council have yet to decide what to do to help the victims.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, who visited the scene, said the Department of Social Welfare and Services will shoulder the fire victims’ meals for three days. (JTR)