CHRISTMAS DAY FIRE RAZES BOY’S DREAMS
Twelve-year-old Cyrus John Ferras is a young man oozing with potential and so full of dreams.
He once told his mother, Teresa, that he wanted to be a seafarer someday to provide a better future for his family.
And Teresa is quite confident her youngest child will become a successful seaman because he was already an achiever even at a young age.
But Cyrus John’s dreams ended on Christmas day after he perished in a fire that engulfed a densely populated area in Barangay Duljo Fatima, Cebu City, on Tuesday dawn.
“I can imagine him aboard a ship because he wanted to board and work on one,” a tearful Teresa said in Cebuano.
Cyrus was reportedly trapped inside the village’s internet cafe. Initial investigation revealed that the Grade 7 student of San Nicolas Elementary School was asleep when the fire broke out.
Some residents tried to wake him up but the victim reportedly went back to sleep. Cyrus was the youngest of four children.
“He recently received a commendation for topping a quiz. He was a happy kid. He had lots of ambitions that he said would make us (family) happy in the future,” said Teresa.
Cyrus’ wake is now being held at the village’s chapel. He will be buried this Monday, December 31.
“I cannot think straight. We lost our youngest who is so fund of hugging me. And every time I see his playmates gather, it pains me to see that he is no longer there anymore. It makes me cry,” Teresa added.
Teresa and her husband sell home-cooked viands to neighbors as their main source of income.
Teresa said that Cyrus John went out of their house after they celebrated noche buena. She said she started looking for her son when he did not return home after a while but just assumed he could be sleeping in his uncle’s house located in the same village.
“Usually, I go and fetch him but that night, I cannot leave the house since I’m the only adult left there. I fell asleep until I heard people screaming that there’s a fire, and that’s when I started looking for him all night long, only to find him dead in the morning,” Teresa said.
The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO) revealed that as of 9 a.m. on Wednesday (December 26), 2,574 individuals from 593 families were displaced by what they called as the largest fire that struck the city this year.
A total of 444 structures, mostly houses made from light materials, were also gutted.
Firefighters from the Bureau of Fire Protection in Cebu City (BFP-Cebu City) received the fire alarm at 3:47 a.m. and by 4:11 a.m. placed it under Task Force Alpha, which is a call for firefighting units from neighboring cities and towns to mobilize.
The blaze was placed under control at 6:26 a.m. or nearly three hours later. Damage was pegged at P3 million.
The fire which spread quickly, affected six sitios or subvillages of Duljo Fatima namely Plastikan, Buli, Mansanitas, San Pedro, Catwalk and Pasong Kabayo.
Another resident, identified as Dorotea Pinote, 67, died due to cardiac arrest shortly after the fire happened. Rescuers rushed her to the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) where she expired.
Meanwhile, fire victims are appealing for much-needed supplies such as water, food, clothes, building materials, and financial aid so they can start over soon.
Most of them are staying at the Duljo Fatima gymnasium and San Vicente Ferrer Chapel but not for long.
Elmer Abella, Barangay Captain of Duljo Fatima, said the evacuees will be moved to the San Nicolas Elementary School before Tropical Depression
Usman makes landfall on Friday (December 28).
Abella said he was concerned that the gym might be flooded when heavy rains are expected to pour over Metro Cebu this weekend.
“Mas maayo gyud kon mobalhin sila sa eskwelahan kay mas komportable didto nya mas protektado ang mga bata labi na og mouwan (It would be better if the victims are transferred to the school because the place is more comfortable for them and the children when it rains),” said Abella.
CCDRRMO will be leading the transfer of the fire victims to San Nicolas Elementary School anytime today, Thursday (December 27), after they checked the school yesterday.
“Nag-fogging na sila didto, nanglimpyo aron maandam ang eskwelahan nga puy-an sa mga victims. (They have conducted fogging and cleaning of the school to prepare it for the victims),” said Abella.
However, Abella said the barangay will not implement a forced evacuation since some of the victims are hesitant to transfer because the school is quite far from the barangay.
“Dili ta makapugos nila. Apan giawhag namo sila nga mobalhin aron pud makomportable sila. (We cannot force the victims to move. However, we urge them for their convenience),” he added.
Abella also said they will abide with the recommendations of the BFP-Cebu City, CCDRRMO and the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP) to reblock the fire site in order to give responders easy access whenever there are future emergencies.
“Mag reblocking gyud ta kay arun dili na mukatag ang kayo. Angay i-reblock gyud ang area. Kay walay dalan sa affected area. Dinhe dapita sa Spolarium Street, wala gyud tay dalan,” said Abella.
(We have to do reblocking to prevent fire from spreading. Reblocking the area is necessary because based on our observation, there are no roads in the affected area. There are no roads leading to the interior parts of the village.) /with reports from Benjie B. Talisic
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