THE start of the “–Ber” months in Mandaue City was tragic for the Ouano family, who lost three members to a fire that broke out inside their ancestral house in Barangay Ibabao-Estancia yesterday.

The fire reportedly started on the ground floor of the two-story house on S.B. Cabahug St. past 5:30 a.m.

Aida Ouano, 40, was able to run outside shouting for help with several burns in her body.

However, her siblings Nestor, 60; Ma. Lyn Ouano-King, 50; and her 16-year-old niece May Crislyn Ouano-King were trapped inside.

The fire also destroyed five houses and damaged a funeral home after the flames spread.

The Mandaue City Fire Station (MCFS) was able to place the flames under control at 6:07 a.m., or about 30 minutes after they arrived in the scene.

The fire was put out 14 minutes later.

SFO2 Cirpriano Codilla Jr., MCFS investigator, said they are looking at two possible causes of the fire.

Possible cause

Codilla said they learned that Aida had been cooking earlier downstairs, according to a relative.

He said neighbors also told them they saw smoke coming from an air-conditioner in the house.

Firefighters found Ma. Lyn and May Crislyn’s body on the second floor.

Codilla believed that the two had been sleeping and could no longer go down.

Nestor’s body was found inside the bathroom.

“Nestor tried to save himself by hiding inside the bathroom. We believed that he died due to suffocation,” Codilla said.

Aside from the MCFS, fire trucks from private agencies and neighboring barangays helped stopped the fire from spreading.

MCFS categorized the incident as a second alarm.

Nancy Teves, a relative of the victims, said they saw Aida run outside shouting for help.

She said neighbors poured water over body when they saw that she was covered in burns.

Contrary to what some people said, Teves said the house did not have an air-conditioner.

She said they have yet to tell Aida what happened to her siblings and niece.

Temporary evacuation

Aida was brought to Chong Hua Hospital in Mandaue. She’s confined in the Intensive Care Unit.

Mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumbing went to the fire site to check the situation of the victims.

According to the City’s Public Information Office, they were tended by the City Social Welfare and Services and were temporarily evacuated to an emission testing center.

Aside from the Ouanos, the fire also affected 10 families, or 32 individuals.

Damage was pegged at P100,000.

Ibabao-Estancia Barangay Captain Boy Barz said the families have several relatives where they can stay, but the barangay can help them if they want to be temporarily placed in an evacuation center.

The fire also damaged the chapel of St. Jude Funeral Homes and the place where the coffins are kept.

The funeral home is next to the Ouano’s house.

Vicente Chavez, 47, said they had to bring the casket of his late 84-year-old father across the street because they were afraid that the chapel where his father’s wake was being held would be affected by the fire.

“We secured the coffin as soon as we saw the flames,” Chavez said in Cebuano.