AS MOST Cebuanos were in local churches to attend Mass on Sunday, January 28, 2024, residents in four barangays in Cebu City were in panic as fire alarms were raised in residential areas in Barangays Punta Princesa, Bacayan, Inayawan, and Guadalupe on the same day.
Senior Fire Officer 2 Wendel Villanueva, information officer of Cebu City Fire Office (CCFO), said that aside from these four residential fire emergencies, there were other four more fire reports that happened also on Sunday, including three rubbish or grass fires, and a fire incident in a mercantile in Barangay Adlaon.
"We were really in great distress, our firefighters, yesterday. We hope that it won't be repeated again since it was really a struggle, although our firefighters were able to respond to the emergencies," he said in an interview on Monday, January 29, 2024.
Villanueva described the turn of events Sunday as challenging and "one-of-a-kind," saying "it was the first time to hear that it was like that, that we were confronted with so many fire incidents in one day."
Initial fire reports from the CCFO of the Bureau of Fire Protection revealed that the four residential fires on Sunday resulted in a total of P2.254 million in damages, affecting a total of 76 individuals.
Reports said that fire officers responded first to the incident in Sitio Lower Kabajar in Barangay Guadalupe at 5:53 a.m., and they managed to control it 23 minutes after arriving at the scene. They extinguished the fire at 6:28 a.m.
The fire affected a total of seven structures, of which two were partially burned and five were destroyed, resulting in a total of P845,000 in damages.
Three hours later, a fire incident happened at 9:14 a.m. in Sitio Lower Torre in Barangay Inayawan, leaving P500,000 worth of damage to properties, partially affecting one structure, and razing two houses. The fire was declared out at 9:50 a.m.
There were 12 more structures -- six damaged and six others destroyed -- affected by a fire incident in Barangay Bacayan at 11:03 a.m. The firefighters were able to declare fire out 40 minutes after, leaving P900,000 estimated damage.
In the evening, they responded to a separate fire incident in Sitio Trinidad in Barangay Punta Princesa that partially destroyed a house with an estimated worth of damage at P500. The fire was already put out when responders arrived at the fire scene at 6:52 p.m.
Villanueva said that luckily, there were no recorded fatalities during the fire incidents on Sunday, but there were at least three people who sustained injuries in Barangay Bacayan.
Two female residents received a second degree burn on their right arms and legs. Also, a firefighter had a first degree burn on his right arm.
Villanueva said that after responding to numerous fire incidents in a single day, they were directed by Fire Superintendent Reynaldo Enoc, director of CCFO, to be on heightened alert to respond to any fire emergencies swiftly.
"That is why last night, all of our forces were on standby and on alert because we were teased by the fire incidents that had happened, so this is really not normal, this does not occur that often," he added.
He urged the public to avoid putting up garbage and leaves on fire since it is illegal in the law.
There were three rubbish and grass fires that occurred last Sunday, including the fire incidents in Barangays Tisa and Lahug, and at the South Road Properties.
Burning of leaves and waste materials is strictly prohibited under Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Management Act, stipulated in its Section 48, Paragraph 3. This legislation mandates responsible and sustainable waste management practices to protect the environment.
The law states that any person found violating the provisions shall be penalized with a fine ranging from P1,000 to P20,000 or imprisonment for one day to 15 days, or both, at the discretion of the court.
Also, there was a mercantile fire or incident that occurred around 10 a.m. in a commercial building in Sitio Proper Adlaon in Barangay Adlaon.
Based on the report, the fire incident was late reported to the authorities, thus firefighters arrived at the scene at 4 p.m.
The damage was pegged at P5,000. (KJF)