CEBU CITY -- A fire tore through a crowded neighborhood in Barangay Poblacion Pardo, Cebu City Wednesday afternoon, destroying 50 houses and damaging 10 others.
No one was reported injured, but the fire razed at least P300,000 worth of properties, said Cebu City Fire Marshal Rogelio Bongabong Jr.
Poblacion Pardo Barangay Captain Altea Lim said they will conduct an emergency session to declare a state of calamity. They already asked for assistance from the Cebu City Government to set up tents near the fire site, where the affected families will stay temporarily.
The firefighters received the call for help at 4:22 p.m. about a fire that had erupted in an interior portion of Sitio Kawayan. The incident was raised to a third alarm, which meant that all fire trucks from Cebu City had to respond, including volunteer fire brigades.
To reach the packed neighborhood, Bongabong said they connected at least 14 hoses. It took them some time to control the flames, which they eventually stopped from spreading at 5:03 p.m.
“It is a usual scene when informal settlers are involved. Maglisod gyud ta (We always have a hard time),” he said.
The fire gutted some 50 houses, mostly made of light materials. Some of the houses belonged to barangay employees, such as the treasurer and truck driver.
An initial investigation revealed the fire allegedly started in the ceiling of a two-storey house owned by Jesus Racoma, which several families occupy.
Racoma’s daughter Elisa Molina, 49, told Sun.Star Cebu that no one was inside their house when the fire occurred.
They were in the basketball court, where Molina was selling food. One of the occupants, Jeffril Malacora, 27, was playing basketball.
Ma, daughter safe
Mae Angeli Malacora, 23, who stayed in the adjacent house, was looking after her three-month-old daughter when their neighbors shouted that there was a fire.
“Nakita nako nga nasunog na ang pikas balay mao ako gidali ug kuha akong anak dayon nidagan mi sa gawas (I saw the flames in the next house, so I grabbed the baby and ran outside),” she said. She was left with nothing.
Police were deployed and cordoned the area to secure the belongings of the affected families. Medical personnel were also sent to attend to the needs of the elderly, who are at risk of hypertension.
Alvin Santillana, operations and training officer of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRMC), assured that the fire survivors will still be able to build their houses in the area.
“It has always been the City Government’s stand,” he said, unless a re-blocking will be implemented. (A re-blocking is usually ordered to widen access roads in a fire scene, so that emergency vehicles can reach its interiors faster.)
Santillana said the affected families will be given free meals for three days. They will also get relief goods, housing materials and cash assistance.
As of last night, the Cebu City Government’s Department of Social Welfare and Services was still conducting an assessment to confirm how many families and individuals the fire affected.