Lighted candle eyed in Cebu City fire that killed widow, razed 118 houses
Investigator also looking at faulty electrical wiring as possible cause of Bulacao fire
CEBU CITY, Philippines — A 62-year-old widow died in a late night fire on Thursday, Feb. 4, that razed 118 houses, displaced 731 individuals in three sitios in Barangay Bulacao, Cebu City.
Fire Officer 3 Emerson Arceo, Cebu City Fire Department’s fire investigator, said that a lighted candle or faulty electrical wiring were the possible causes of the fire, which started in the house of the widow, Lolisa Cabaluna, in Sitio Sario, Barangay Bulacao, since there was a power interruption or brownout before the fire started.
“Nag brown-out prior sa incident. Unya mao to pagbalik, pila ka minutes nahitabo na ang sunog. So naay possibility pod nga kuryente or naggamit ug kandila [ang nakasugod sa sunog],” said FO3 Arceo in an interview with reporters.
(There was a brownout before the incident. And so when the power returned, a few minutes after, the fire happened. So, there is a possibility that it was caused by faulty electrical wiring or a lighted candle.)
“Pagsiga sa suga, mao na lay ilang (residents) nali-lian nga dako na ang kayo sa balay ni Maam Lolisa,” he said.
(When the power returned, they then noticed the fire which has already gutted a larger part of Maam Lolisa’s house.)
Arceo said that the fire which started in Cabaluna’s house in Sitio Sario spread to two neighboring sitios —Siwac and Upper San Roque.
He also said that the body of Cabaluna, who lived alone in her house, was recovered at 10 a.m. today, Feb. 5 at what remained of her razed residence.
Aside from the death of Cabaluna, a person was also injured after he suffered first degree burns while three others were given emergency treatment after they experienced difficulty in breathing due to the smoke from the fire.
Alipio Juquilon, 67, who suffered first degree burns in his arms, was treated at the fire site.
With the death of Cabaluna, which is the second death due to a fire in Cebu City in two months, Arceo reminded the public to not panic during a fire.
“Number 1 rule is do not panic. ” he said.
He also said that in certain situations one must crawl to the exits because the smoke would always go up.
He also said that another important thing when one would already be outside and safe — do not go back to the burning house to save any personal belongings.
Initial reports showed that the fire was called in at 8:53 p.m. of Feb. 4. It was raised to second alarm at 9:05 p.m., and 3rd alarm at 9:25 p.m. Authorities declared fire out at 10:31 p.m.
Arceo also estimated the damage to property at P600,000.
Meanwhile, the 731 displaced individuals or fire victims were temporarily staying at the Bulacao Community School.
Elaine Gabutan, Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) social worker, said that they had initially recorded 169 affected families or 118 households made up of 731 individuals.
Gabutan told CDN Digital in an interview that the DSWS would provide three daily meals for the evacuees for three days.
She also said that the DSWS would give canned goods and three kilos of rice per person.
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