Hundreds left homeless in Tisa, Labangon dawn fire
IN yet the biggest fire in Cebu City for the year, hundreds of families were left homeless when a fire allegedly caused by a kerosene lamp inside a house in Barangay Tisa, quickly spread to Barangay Labangon and razed at least 185 houses in its wake.
Four sitios of Barangay Tisa were declared under a state of calamity after the nearly 7-hour firerendered at least 259 families homeless on Monday dawn.
A state of calamity is also set to be declared in Sitio Sto. Rosario, Labangon to allow the barangay to use its calamity funds to assist the victims.
Authorities estimated the damage to reach P1.5 million.
No one was seriously injured.
The four sitios in Barangay Tisa which were affected by the fire are Lutaw-lutaw, Tacao, Luhai, and Kauswagan.
City Hall’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) immediately provided food to the affected residents, many of whom occupied the gymnasiums of the two affected barangays.
Each affected family will receive P20,000 from the Cebu City government.
Barangay Tisa Captain Philip Zafra said they received reports that a couple had a confrontation, prompting the husband to throw a lighted lamp at his wife, inside their residence.
Investigators are looking for the suspect, a certain Andrew Balunan, and his wife.
Another information they received was that Balunan’s child was left alone in the house lighted by a lamp that accidentally fell past midnight yesterday.
“I urge the couple to appear before my office to shed light on what really happened. People are mad at them. They are blamed for what happened. I understand they are afraid to come into the open, but I hope they will see me,” said Zafra in an interview.
Cebu City Fire Marshal Rogelio Bongabong said they received the fire alarm at 12:28 a.m.
After about an hour, he declared a Task Force Alpha, calling fire trucks from other cities to help Cebu City firefighters put out the blaze.
Bongabong said the fire was placed under control at 2:33 a.m. but was totally put out at 6:58 a.m.
“Pasalamat na lang ta sa Ginoo nga walay kinabuhi nga nakalas. (We’re just thankful to the Lord that no one died),” he said.
Some of the victims came back to where their houses stood to see if there was anything that was left.
As he stared at what was left of his home, Epifanio Montero, 67, recalled that they were awakened by neighbors shouting.
“Amo nalang nadunggan nga naay kunoy sunog. Nagdali dali mi, ako tawn giuna akong mga apo ug pagawas (We heard shout that there was a fire. We quickly escaped. I made sure to rescue my grandchildren.),” Montero said.
Asked whether the fire scene would be reblocked, Nagiel Bañacia, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head, said they still need to identify the owners of the property before deciding what to do with the displaced families, and if they can still rebuild their houses.
Another fire victim, Ariston Mahilum Jr., expressed hopes that they will still be allowed to rebuild their homes in the private lot where they stayed for 12 years.
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