EIGHTY-TWO families were left homeless after a fire gutted their houses in Doña Maria Village extension in Barangay Punta Princesa, Cebu City last Wednesday night.
The incident should teach homeowners not to fix their electrical wirings by themselves, a fire investigator said.
The fire started at 11:10 p.m. on the second floor of Maxinino Obado’s house, allegedly due to electrical misuse, said SFO4 Roylin Maratas, chief investigator of the Cebu City Fire Department.
It took firefighters 41 minutes to put the fire under control, meaning the flames could no longer spread to other structures.
Firefighters, however, managed to completely put out the fire some three hours later, at 2:39 a.m. yet, due to the narrow roads leading to the fire scene.
Also, the flames spread quickly because the houses were made of light materials.
Maratas lamented that it took a while to put out the fire because some homeowners misled the firefighters and directed them toward their houses instead of the house where the fire started.
“We experienced problems with crowd control,” Maratas said, noting that firefighters should always proceed to where the fire started to keep the flames from spreading, but some people kept them from doing so.
Although no one was reported injured, the blaze destroyed P150,000 worth of properties, Maratas said.
Investigators wanted to ask the Obado family some questions after the fire was put out, but they already left the fire scene by then.
Maratas said the Obados must have fled immediately because some neighbors were angry at them for not consulting an electrician to fix their electrical wiring at home.
“They reportedly fixed it on their own. Days before, they told some neighbors their electricity would go on and off,” Maratas said.
He said fixing the wires must be entrusted to licensed or certified electricians who have the proper tools and knowledge.
The fire status was raised up to the second alarm last Wednesday night, signaling that all firetrucks in Cebu City were required to respond and help put off the fire.
In City Hall, Cebu City Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) to provide the affected families their immediate needs, including food and clothing.
He also asked DSWS to provide the families financial aid and housing materials as soon as they validate and identify the affected families.
According to DSWS’ latest count, 44 houses were razed and 82 families or 240 individuals were affected.
Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor chief Collin Rosell said the City Government will restore what has been damaged by the fire. This means the affected families will still be allowed to rebuild their houses there, whether or not the lot is privately owned.
The City has yet to determine the status of the land as the evaluation is still ongoing.
Rosell said they have to prioritize the construction of an interior road that will connected to area hit by the fire to the main road so that it can be accessible to vehicles during emergencies.