Cebu fire renders 800 homeless

11/02/2010 - CEBU CITY, Philippines—A fire that hit a thickly populated village on the night of All Saints' Day displaced over 800 persons, the authorities said.

Most of the victims had just arrived or were still in the cemetery when the fire broke out at 9:06 p.m. Monday in Barangay (village) Duljo-Fatima, which explained why many of the victims failed to salvage their belongings, village captain Elmer Abella said on Tuesday.

The fire started in Sitio (sub-village) Barbac on C. Padilla Street then spread to two other sitios: Panaghiusa Dos and Mecabaha.

The fire, which was put under control at 11:13 p.m., destroyed 87 houses, according to former City councilor Gerardo Carillo, who is now a consultant to the Cebu City Disaster and Coordinating Council.

Carillo said around 172 families or 833 persons were displaced. Some of the fire victims were evacuated to the barangay hall and barangay gym, while the rest just stayed in tents near the site.

The damage was pegged at P2.8 million, according to fire investigator Senior Fire Officer 2 Roylin Maratas.

According to Maratas, the fire started at the house of Lumen Moniño, who was accused by her neighbors of lighting a candle at the altar in her bedroom on the second floor and leaving the lighted candle after she finished saying her prayers.

But Moniño’s daughter, Ma. Fe, denied this claim, saying her mother put out the candle, which was placed on the concrete floor of the house.

She said they were watching a television show on the ground floor of the house when someone noticed the fire at the room of her mother.

Meanwhile, Abella blamed the fire department for failing to control the fire. He said the firemen focused their attention only on C. Padilla St.

“The fire department waited for 40 minutes before fielding their trucks along Duljo St. side. If they just listened to us, then the damage to property would not be that big and the houses in Sitio Mecabaha would have been spared,” Abella said.

Abella said they would declare the three sitios under a state of calamity so they could utilize their remaining calamity fund amounting to P175,000. (Inquirer)

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