Duljo-Fatima fire probe continues as displaced victims reach 2,700

By Morexette Marie B. Erram and Delta Dyrecka C. Letigio |December 27,2018 - 11:33 PM

AS the Bureau of Fire Protection in Cebu City continues to find out the cause of the Barangay Duljo Fatima fire on Christmas Day, the number of families and validated individuals displaced by the dawn blaze have also increased from 2,574 to 2,700 individuals.

This as the Department of Social Welfare and Services continued with their validation of the victims of the fire that hit seven sitios of Barangay Duljo Fatima.

Flora Bartolome, acting DSWS director, said that these 2,700 individuals as of 9 a.m. on Thursday were still an initial total since they were still continuing with their validation of the fire victims from sitios Plastikan, Buli, Catwalk, San Pedro, Kabayo, Punyang or Ponyang, and Mansanitas.

According to the DSWS, the initial total of families, as of Wednesday was 593 families and as of Thursday there were already 641 families, who were displaced by what disaster teams of Cebu City considered as the biggest fire that struck the city this year.

The fire claimed the life of 12-year-old Cyrus John Ferras who was reportedly trapped inside an internet cafe.

Another victim identified as Dorotea Pinote, 67, also died after rescuers rushed her to Cebu City Medical Center for suffering from a heart attack during the blaze.

State of calamity

On late Wednesday evening (December 26), barangay officials declared all affected sitios or subvillages under a state of calamity so that they could use the barangay’s calamity funds.

Elmer Abella, barangay captain of Duljo Fatima, said barangay officials conducted a special session on Wednesday evening to raise the declaration.

“We have an estimated P685,000 worth of calamity funds which will be spent to purchase building materials for the fire victims, and food packs good for five days,” said Abella in Cebuano.

When asked what would happen if the barangay’s calamity funds would not be enough for the victims, Abella said they would do their best to make sure the funds would be enough.

He also said that the barangay had passed a resolution granting the families of Ferras and Pinote P20,000 each as financial assistance.

He said this would be on top of the financial and burial aid – P20,000 and P10,000 respectively – that the city government would provide them.

Fire probe

The BFP-Cebu City, for their part, were still trying to find out what caused the Duljo-Fatima fire.

In a phone interview with Cebu Daily News, City Fire Marshall, Chief Fire Insp. Noel Ababon, said that they were still interviewing witnesses, who claimed that the fire allegedly started in the house of Rene Agwanta, a Carbon market porter and a resident of Sitio Buli.

Ababon said that they were also investigating an unconfirmed report that the fire was allegedly caused by a couple fighting on Christmas dawn which led to the woman partner allegedly burning her partner’s motorcycle.

“We still need to interview more witnesses to confirm this. As of now, we already have an origin of the fire, but the cause of the fire remains a mystery,” said Ababon.

He also said that they were also investigating Agwanta’s claim that the fire started from one of the three empty houses near his house, which he claimed were allegedly used by some people as an area to use illegal drugs.

Ababon said they had still to verify this claim.

However, he assured that if it would be proven that the fire was caused by an accident, the BFP would not file cases against where the fire started.

“If the fire was caused by an accident, nobody can be held responsible. We can only remind people to be careful,” said Ababon.

The Christmas Day fire razed at least 400 structures in seven Duljo-Fatima sitios.

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