Fire victims blame power outage

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

ANOTHER fire which razed six houses at Zone 1 in Barangay Bayabas early Friday morning has been blamed on the scheduled power interruption that is affecting the city lately.

“Ang dahilan guyd ani ang taas nga brownout sa Cepalco (The cause of this is Cepalco's long brownout),” Bayabas chairman Eddie Abrogar said.

He said when the power is out, people are left to lighting candles and using kerosene lamps, which, if left unattended, can cause fire.


“Di man ‘na sila (victims) mag dagkot kung naay kuryente (They won't do this if there is power),” he added.

The barangay officials listed over 30 individuals who were affected by the fire.

Abrogar urged the victims to stay at the covered court, but they refused.

After the fire was put out, Abrogar gathered the victims at the barangay hall and gave them breakfast.

The victims opted to stay outside their burned houses, resting beneath the shade of a tent that the city government provided them.

Abrogar hailed the quick response of the firefighters. “Kung nalangay pa ‘to, modako pa gyud unta to ang kalayo (If they were delayed, the fire could have spread),” he added.

‘Everyone panicked’

“Ika 13th anniversary na unta next Sunday sa among church, nasunog pa guyd (It would be the 13th anniversary of the church next Sunday, and now it's burned),” Pastor Theodoro Docena of the Free Methodist Church said.
Docena was awakened after he felt too much heat that came above his head. He said the fire had spread when he saw it. He quickly sent his family out. Seeing his family outside, he followed suit and whistled loudly to warn everyone in the neighborhood.

Knowing there was nothing they could do to put out the fire, they just stood and watched the fire razed the structures. 

Docena and most of the people in the neighborhood believed that an unattended lamp caused the fire. 

“Everyone was panicking,” he said, adding that they lost everything including a computer set, speakers, 30 plastic chairs, gadgets and band instruments in the church. A guitar was all he could save.," Docena recalled. 

Though sad, he is thankful that no lives were lost. “Pasalamat gihapon ta sa Ginoo kay wala ra naunsa atong panglawas (Let us thank God for we aren't physically hurt),” Docena said.
Investigation ongoing

Jonathan Yder, 24, was one of the victims of the fire. They are four in the family—his wife, father and his sibling. He works as a security guard at a mall here.
“Nag duty ko gikan, tingala ko, nanawag ang agency namo, gi-ignan ko nga nasunog mi. Pag-abot nako sa balay, ugdaw na among balay (I was on duty, then I was surprised I got a call from my agency and informed me of the fire. When I reached the house, it was razed to the ground),” he said.

Yver’s father Vivencio, who is temporarily staying at Barangay Canito-an, witnessed how the fire started recalling that darkness filled the night. Then, he was awakened by the heat and saw the flame spreading to the living room. He woke his family up and alerted the neighbors.

Senior Fire Officer 4 Ferdinand Naybe, of Bayabas fire station, said that based on the initial report they had gathered, the fire started in the living room of the Yders.

The fire which is under category 2 was declared a 'fire out' at 4:45 a.m. that yielded a damage estimated at P230,000.

Vivencio told the fire investigators that he wasn't certain if the lamp in the house caused the fire since it already spread when he felt it.

Naybe couldn't categorically say the blaze started because of the lamp.

“Klarohon sa gyud nato kung unsa gyud ang hinungdan sa sunog, siguro istorya-istorya ra ‘na sa mga tao nga lampara ang hinungdan busa, klarohon sa gyud (Let us clarify what really caused the fire, it might just be the people's chatter that a gas lamp caused it, it has to be clarified),” Naybe said.

School as refuge

About a month ago, on April 15, a fire razed 15 houses inside the Yaba compound along Corrales street.

Adelina F. Encado, Corrales Elementary School principal, said since the victims of the fire have been staying in the school, “so far, wala kayo naka-apekto ang mga tao sa among mga activities (so far, they haven't disturbed our activities).”

Two weeks after the fire, two of the families who sought refuge at the school went back to their place and started to rebuild their houses, she said.

In the meantime, those families who opted to stay in the school are waiting for the government to help them reconstruct their houses. 

Barangay 22 chair Eldo Casiño promised that by June 2, before the classes start, the victims would have already moved back to their places by then.

Lornita Yaba, 74, a fire victim, said “okay ra man mi, gahulat nalang sa ayoda sa CSWD (City
Social Welfare and Development) para pang tukod balay. May unta madali (we're okay here, we are just waiting for the assistance of CSWD to help us rebuild our house. I hope it will be fast-tracked).”

Yaba said they lost their entire compound because of the fire.

Three days after the fire, “sugod atong namakwit mi, hangtud karun, amo-amo ra ang pagkaon (since we evacuated, up until now, we have been taking care of our food),” she said.

“Gusto na namo mobalik sa among lugar, pero unsaon taman, wa man gyud tay kwarta (We want to go back to our place, but what can we do, we don't have money),” she said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 10, 2014.

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