OVER 200 families in 3 sitios were affected; BFP 7 says witnesses say children were seen playing with matches earlier
Just a few minutes before the official opening of the Sinulog sa Barangay, a fire razed 300 houses, and affected almost 200 families and more than 1,000 individuals in three sitios of Barangay Pasil yesterday noon. Damage was pegged at P3 million.
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 7 traced the fire to the house of Ely Petalcorin, in the room occupied by a certain Joshua.
“A four-year-old boy was allegedly seen playing with matches and that started the fire,” Supt. Ronaldo Orbeta, deputy regional director for operations of the BFP-7, said.
The BFP 7 received the alarm at 12:26 p.m. and classified it as Task Force Alpha at 12:45 p.m.
SFO3 Alberto Jagdon, fire investigator, said it was difficult fighting the fire.
“It was in the interior portion of the barangay and this is the usual problem when fire hits the area. The roads are so small and there are so many encroachments. There is also the blower from the Visayan Electric Company,” Jagdon said.
Jagdon said that the blower was protecting the Veco plant because there would be a bigger problem if the electricity source was damaged.
The barangay had a fire hydrant, but water pressure was low.
At 1:08 p.m., the fire was raised to Task Force Bravo. A general alarm was declared at 2:22 p.m. These classifications determine how many fire stations are supposed to respond.
Fire stations from the entire Cebu are summoned to the fire scene under a general alarm, the BFP 7 said.
Some survivors alleged that the fire started in a drug den.
Senior Insp. Keith Andaya, chief of the Sawang Calero Police Station, and some personnel from the Mandaue City Police Office who are on Sinulog duty also went to the scene.
“The owner of the house is not in our watchlist, but we heard the reports and we need to validate these first,” Andaya said.
Pasil Barangay Captain Julius Guioguio said they will ask for help by convening the council and declaring a state of calamity in Sitios Riverside, Lawis and Maharlika.
“We need their help in terms of the budget,” he said.
Guioguio said that the San Roque Chapel was also razed.
More than 1,000 persons
Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO) Chief Nagiel Bañacia said that the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) has accounted 272 families or 1,314 individuals, who were affected by the fire.
“Tanods and community response teams were first responders. They brought with them fire extinguishers. But they failed to contain the blaze as it quickly spread throughout the house made of light materials, which prompted them to call the fire department,” Bañacia stated in his Facebook post.
The fire that lasted for three hours was placed under control at 2:54 p.m., but was not declared fire out as of press time.
Bañacia said some rooms of the priests and the refectory of Don Bosco Youth Training Center in Pasil were damaged.
Nine identified persons with disability (PWDs) were evacuated by tanods and community leaders, Bañacia said.
They were housed temporarily in the Cuenco building of the Pasil Elementary School.
They are requesting generous individuals for donations of food packs, clothes, blankets and other necessities.