4-year-old girl dies in flames

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

CEBU CITY -- A four-year-old suffered severe burns and died when a fire damaged her family’s house in Barangay Punta Princesa, Cebu City at noon Monday.

The Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP)-Central Visayas received the alarm at 12:45 p.m. and declared the flames under control at 1:08 p.m.

About 12 hours before that fire, another blaze hit a house and a sedan in Barangay Tapilon, Daanbantayan town.

Punta Princesa, Cebu City fire kills 4-year-old child
HE WAS ONLY 15 METERS AWAY.  Mike Romero breaks into tears after realizing that a fire not only damaged his house in Barangay Punta Princesa, Cebu City, but also killed his daughter Estella Jean, four years old. (Sun.Star Cebu photo/Allan Defensor)


The fire in Bayabas Extension, Barangay Punta Princesa broke out in an interior portion, where Estella Jean Romero, 4, reported played with her brother Ralph Robin, 5.

Fire investigator Emiliano Daño said there was no electrical connection on the second floor, where the children played.

Two houses were damaged, with about P50,000 worth of properties lost.

In an interview, Estella Jean’s father, Mike, said he was fixing his motorcycle on the street just 15 meters away from the house.

The child’s mother reportedly went to a neighbor’s wake.

“Maayo pa wala to nako biyai. Wala sad ko magtuo nga ma ingon ato (I shouldn’t have left them there. I never expected this to happen),” said Mike.

Barred by smoke

George Herbella, Ella Jean’s uncle, first noticed the smoke and tried to save his niece but could not go up to the second floor because of the thick smoke.

“Dako na kaayo ang kayo sa taas lisod na kaayo sak-on (The fire had gotten too big and it was too difficult to go upstairs),” said Herbella.

Mike also tried to save his daughter, but it was too late.

He said there was no electrical connection on the second floor.

Investigator Daño said it didn’t take long to put out the first-alarm fire, but they have yet to confirm what caused it. All they know for now is that the fire appeared to have started where the children were.

The child’s family rushed her to a hospital, but she was declared dead.

Aside from Mike’s house, Edito Bepito’s house next door was also damaged.

No one home

In Sitio Pangpang, Barangay Tapilon, Daanbantayan, the fire started at 12:10 a.m.
PO3 Victor Avenido of Daanbantayan Police Station said the blaze broke out in the house of Leo Caballa, 54. It spread and burned a white Nissan Sentra (GGA-417) owned by Danilo Montana, which had been parked on the premises.

Avenido said that the homeowner was away, reportedly attending a fiesta celebration in the neighboring barangay of Agujo.

“Wala gyu’y tawo kay iyang mga anak pud nilakaw (His children were away, too, so there was no one home),” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

When Caballa returned home, he found his bungalow reduced to rubble. He told the police that a neighbor that he had fought with could have started the fire.

“Gisunog daw sa iyang kontra (He suspects an enemy started it),” the police officer said.

Police are also not discounting the possibility that an appliance that had been left plugged could have started the fire.

The fire damaged at least P50,000 worth of properties. (JTR/DSM/Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 04, 2014.

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