Hectic time for firefighters: 5 fires, 25 hours

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

IN BARELY 25 hours, five fires struck Cebu, leaving more than 600 families homeless and, in Sibonga town, killing an 83-year-old man.

Three of the fires broke out in Cebu City.

The latest one began at 4:05 p.m. in a residential area on Palma St., Barangay San Roque, at the back of the Cebu Technological University and near Pier 3.


The two fires that struck outside Cebu City began in Candaguit, Sibonga at 10:30 p.m. Thursday and in Looc, Mandaue at 12:05 p.m. yesterday.

SFO3 Julde Deposa, fire marshal of the Sibonga Fire Station, said that Willington Lopez, 83, got trapped when flames engulfed his house last Thursday night.

The widower’s body was found at the foot of the stairs.

An initial investigation by firefighters revealed that Lopez was alone in the house, some four kilometers from the town proper. His son reportedly prepared his dinner, then left for Cebu City to play with a band.

The fire department said that neighbors tried to get Lopez out, but the flames quickly spread through the house’s light materials. Deposa, during the interview, said the family has been using candles at night since last June.

Damage to property was estimated at P60,000.

(Video by Lindley Saladaga)

San Roque

The fire in San Roque yesterday afternoon destroyed at least 100 houses or an estimated P500,000 in property, said Cebu City Fire Marshal Rogelio Bongabong.

Firefighters declared it a Task Force Alpha fire at 4:25 p.m., which meant that all Cebu City fire trucks and those of neighboring cities were asked to respond.

The fire was contained at 4:48 p.m.

San Roque Barangay Captain Lidiore “Boy” Miranda said some 600 to 700 families were affected.

Traffic on S. Osmeña Blvd. was stalled for almost six hours from the time the fire started in the area.

Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM) Operations Chief Joy Tumulak said they temporarily closed the tunnel that connects the Cebu South Coastal Road to the South Road Properties at 4:22 p.m.

“Most of the vehicles passing the tunnel run at high speed and the fire trucks were parked above the tunnel, so we had to close the passage,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

Kitten rescued from Cebu City fire
CEBU. A policeman rescued this kitten from the fire on Palma St., San Roque in Cebu City. (Allan Cuizon)


The tunnel was reopened to traffic an hour later.

Saturnino Sagolili, 52, one of the fire survivors, told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday that the fire began in their rented three-story apartment, owned by Nora Villarin.

He remembered hearing a certain Ester, a former tenant of Villarin’s apartment, shouting at him that there was a fire.

Children playing with matches or illegal power connections were among the theories being considered as to what started the fire.

Barangay Captain Miranda said that a few months ago, he conducted a campaign against electric wiretapping. He appeared emotional during yesterday’s fire because he was worried about his constituents.

“Naninguha ta na maglikay ta sa sunog sama niini pero kung ang residente dili maminaw nato, wala gyud ta’y mabuhat (We try to prevent fires like this, but if some residents don’t listen, there’s nothing we can do),” said Miranda.

The San Roque Barangay Council declared the area under a state of calamity yesterday to provide aid to the survivors.

The barangay gym may be used as a temporary shelter, but it is about six blocks away from the fire scene, and most survivors chose to stay near the lots where their houses used to stand.

There was no electricity in the area.


Bebbie Arana, who owned a sari-sari store in Sitio Palma, lost all the grocery items he had bought and carried home just minutes before the fire started.

Winnie Boyno, 56, told a happier story.

Boyno, who has lived for almost 25 years in Sitio Palma, said his house was spared by two fires that occurred in their sitio in the past 12 years. In 2002, their neighbors lost a house, but Boyno’s family was spared.

The same thing happened yesterday.

“Ang among balay gamay nalang gyud kuwang maapil na unta, pero nasalbar pa gyud.

Salamat sa Diyos (Had the fire continued, it would have taken our house, but it was spared. Thank God),” Boyno told Sun.Star Cebu.

Costumes lost

About 24 hours earlier, a fire broke out on F. Pacaña St., Barangay Tisa, Cebu City.

The fire department received the alarm at 1:19 p.m.

It took firefighters only five minutes to contain the flames, but it had already damaged part of a house.

Also last Thursday afternoon, a costume storage room of the Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. Memorial National High School, which was under renovation, was damaged by a fire in Balaga Drive, Barangay Labangon.


The alarm was received at 3:54 p.m. The fire started inside the school’s storage room when a welding spark accidentally hit the props, setting these on fire.

The materials were mostly made of cloth, wood and plastic. The Cebu City Fire pegged the damage to property at P200,000.

No one was reported hurt during the three fires in Cebu City.

The fourth of the five fires that struck since last Thursday gutted a warehouse and an apartment in Sitio Superior, Barangay Looc, Mandaue City yesterday afternoon.

Another apartment was damaged. No one was reported injured.
Fire struck the sitio less than a month ago.

The Bureau of Fire Protection in Mandaue City received a call for help at 12:05 p.m. and, within an hour, stopped the fire from spreading.

Firefighters, however, had yet to put out the fire as of 7 last night.

Mandaue City Fire Marshal Joel Abarquez said they were having a hard time getting into the warehouse where the fire started.

Filled with flammable materials like plastic and butane, the BG Dionisio Marketing warehouse continued to burn as of 7 p.m.


Abarquez said they were requesting the owner, Dionisio Chua, through the warehouse caretaker, to send a payloader or a bulldozer to remove debris that prevented firefighters from penetrating the warehouse.

He said the fire had been contained.

The fire destroyed the Arcana Apartment and burned a portion of the Antigua Apartment.

Abarquez said they have yet to determine the cost of damage.

The City Social Welfare Services were still verifying the number of victims as of last night. They will provide them with meals for three days.

Last July 22, 11 families, most of them renting rooms, were displaced when fire burned two houses in Sitio Superior.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 09, 2014.

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