THE Office of the Building Official (OBO) in Cebu City still has to check if the boarding house where a 17-year-old nursing student died during last weekend’s fire in Barangay Banilad had a permit.

Engr. Jose Marie Poblete, OBO head, said they’re focusing on helping the victims even though they are undermanned and the scope of the damage is huge.

He encouraged barangays to help them inspect boarding houses to see if these have fire extinguishers and fire exits, as well as a permit from OBO.

Poblete said City Ordinance 1481 gives barangays the power to inspect structures and to issue a cease-and-desist order.

Mayor Michael Rama also asked the Bureau of Fire Protection 7 to look into last Saturday’s fire that destroyed more than 20 homes.

According to Rama they are focusing on structures in Banilad that are not safe.

He said boarding houses must have a permit from OBO to prove these have been inspected and declared safe.

According to Rama, the fire department and the City need to work hand in hand to prevent casualties during fire.

Cebu City Fire Marshal Rogelio Bongabong said they’ve invited five witnesses to the fire.

Conflicting reportsv

Three said the fire originated in the house of Raymond Bindo, while two said it started next door in an apartment owned by Isabelita Rosales.

Bongabong said they will still have to invite three more witnesses.

“Wala pa gyud mi makadetermine sa cause sa fire kay ang mga witnesses na among nakuha lain-lain og version (We haven’t been able to determine the cause of the fire because of conflicting reports from witnesses),” said Bongabong in a phone interview.

At 9 a.m. yesterday, the body of Adrian Lorenzo Tecson, who was trapped inside his rented room in Rosales’s apartment during the fire, was cremated and was taken to Dipolog City.

Tecson, the second among three children, was a second year biology student at the Cebu Doctors’ University.

Tecson was reportedly asleep during the fire.

Joseph Loreto, the apartment caretaker, said they knocked on Tecson’s door but there

was no answer.

Heavy sleeper

“He was a heavy sleeper. And he was very difficult to wake up. He must have been really fast asleep,” said Herbee Jean Ederosas in Cebuano. Ederosas was Tecson’s girlfriend for three years.

In a related development, Banilad Barangay Captain Nicolas Leyson said the fire victims need food, clothing and housing materials.

The fire left 80 families homeless. They are currently staying in the barangay gym. (Zash del Pilar, USJ-R Mass Comm intern)