TWO weeks before the year 2023 ends, Cebu City has already breached the P4 billion mark in the value of property damage wrought by fires.
Cebu City Fire Office information officer SFO2 Wendell Villanueva said the figure represents a skyrocketing difference from the P516 million worth of properties damaged by fires last year.
The number is a 718 percent increase from damage logged from incidents recorded in the city from January to December 2022, said Villanueva.
Villanueva said as of Tuesday, Dec. 11, the city fire department already recorded damage to properties estimated at P4,091,223,150, after responding to 305 fire incidents this year, which is also higher than the 231 incidents recorded in 2022.
Villanueva said a significant portion of the property loss occurred during an a fire that happened in an unfinished high-rise building in Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City, last April.
The fire that broke out at the 35-storey Grand Residences condominium led to damage nearing P4 billion. The fire started at around 2:40 p.m. and escalated to Task Force Bravo only two hours later at 4:38 p.m., prompting the response of all fire brigades in Cebu.
The fire department declared the fire extinguished at 11:50 p.m., concluding a nine-hour operation.
Villanueva said the death toll from fire incidents also rose to eight this year compared to one life claimed in 2022.
A total of 21 individuals were reported injured so far this year; while last year, 27 people were hurt.
Villanueva said the primary cause of fires this year was identified as electrical misuse, as some homeowners were reluctant to address issues pertaining to their electrical installations.
He said some homes were overloaded with appliances, yet their electrical wirings were not updated to accommodate the increased load.
Additionally, the fire officer said faulty appliances, overnight charging without unplugging, and unsafe practices with extension cords or “octopus connection,” play pivotal roles in the rising number of fire incidents.
According to the data, fire investigators have found that most of the fire incidents were still caused by electric ignitions caused by arcing, followed by ignition caused by loose connections, and then those caused by overheated appliances.
“So, you’ve witnessed the significant increase in our fire incidents. Hopefully, by 2024... we can further reduce the fire incidents in the city of Cebu,” he said.