The fire destroyed 20 houses and damaged four others.
It then spread to the nearby Southwestern University, damaging six rooms in the second and third floors of its Maria Guerrero building.
A resident, Boboy Gacasin, was rushed to a hospital for slight burns.
Senior Fire Officer Jimmy Layao of the Cebu City Fire Department said property damages was estimated at P2 million since houses were made of light and concrete materials.
Layao said the fire broke out at 2:40 a.m. in a boardinghouse owned by 61-year-old Rosie Lambo Barrientos.
Lorie Lucban, a student boarder, said she heard an explosion and saw a wall-mounted electric fan burst in flame.
When the flames spread to the wall and ceiling, she went outside and called for help.
Mark Similong, one of the student boarders, said he and his friends were drinking at the ground floor when the explosion occurred.
He went upstairs to save his belongings. He suffered minor burns on his left arm.
Layao said the electric fan may have been left on and overheated.
He said the fire was so intense it spread to the SWU school building, whose fire wall didn't protect some of its floors.
Firefighters positioned their trucks inside the school compound allowing them to put out the fire easily.
Layao said the damage in the building wasn't serious since the floors were not occupied at the time.
The ground level that housed the laboratory rooms was spared.
Jason Paragele of the SWU graduate school department said classes were suspended because of the fire. But other departments continued their regular classes.
Yesterday’s fire took place on the day students in private schools in Cebu were resuming classes after the summer break.
Despite the congested area, Layao said firefighters reached the area since there were enough access roads and put out the fire at 6:30 a.m. or 30 minutes after they arrived.
Cathy Yso, head of the Cebu City Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), said they initially listed 144 persons, mostly students, who were displaced.
She said the students chose to look for another boardinghouse rather than stay in tents set up as shelter. Yso said the city government will provide food relief starting yesterday.
Affected residents will receive construction materials and other goods from Cebu City Hall.
“Most of the affected persons here are boarders and they want to protect their belongings,” said Alvin Santillana, chief of the Cebu City anti-disaster council.
He said four big tents were set up on both streets near the affected area. Eight portable toilets were also stationed in the site.
(Cebu Daily News)