4 Fires: 1 Dead

By: Bjorn Abraham Tabanera, Carine M. Asutilla, Chito O. Aragon, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag, Norman V. Mendoza August 09,2014 - 09:33 AM

Fire in Looc

Four fires struck Cebu in less than 24 hours.

An elderly man was killed Thursday night after he was trapped inside his burning house in the town of Sibonga, about 60 kilometers south of Cebu City.

Two fires struck the cities of Mandaue and Cebu at noon Friday and just as firefighters were resting and fixing their gear, they were again alerted about another fire near the port area late in the afternoon.

Wellington Lopez, 83, was alone at home in barangay Candaguit in Sibonga when the fire struck at around 10 p.m.

His son, Ramoncito, was at work, said FO1 Rowel Tumongha, chief arson investigator of the Sibonga Fire Station.

A lighted candle may have toppled and started the fire that razed the house, said the fireman. Neighbors last saw Lopez buying a candle from a store. His son said the house has no electric power after he had disconnected the service for fear that his elderly father may get electrocuted.

The father’s body was found in the living room. “He probably tried to flee,” Tumongha said.

In Mandaue City, a row of commercial establishments in barangay Looc was destroyed by fire that started at around noon.

Senior Insp. Joel Abarquez, fire marshal of the Mandaue City Fire Station, said the fire was placed under control after an hour.


Jeffrey Castillo, who works at the warehouse of B.G. Dionisio Marketing along J,M. Ceniza St., said they heard an explosion and saw flames coming out of the establishment’s main power switch box.

“Nigawas mi aron mani-udto, pagbalik namo mao na lang amo na-abtan nga dako na ang kayo (We went out for lunch and when we came back, we just saw a big fire),” said Florante Sadagnot, a warehouse worker.

The fire immediately spread to the adjacent Kishi Plastics and Precision Works Corp, which had combustible materials such as chemicals and spray paints in its stockroom.

‘Like rockets’

The searing heat caused the spray cans to explode. Witnesses said the spray cans flew by up to 100 feet “like rockets”. Police and barangay tanods drove people away from the area where the projectiles fell.

The fire also destroyed a car repair shop, a cooking gas refilling shop and a row of apartments.
Ben Pardenas, who owns Ben’s Auto Repair Shop, stood helplessly as he surveyed the debris where his shop once stood.

No casualties or injuries were reported, but some firemen complained of inhaling smoke mixed with chemicals and burnt plastic.

Classes at the nearby Comprehensive National High School were called off.

Fire marshal Abarquez said firetrucks could not enter the narrow streets prompting his men to interconnect their hoses to reach the fire scene.

Firefighters from Cebu City along with fire volunteers also had to pull out after another alarm was sounded at 1:19 p.m. to respond to a fire that struck the warehouse of People’s Educational

Supply on F. Pacana Street in barangay Tisa. The fire was placed under control after 12 minutes. Arson investigators estimated the damage at P10,000.

Shortly after 4 p.m., siren blasts caused a stir among city folk as another fire struck a thickly populated community in the city.

A huge column of smoke billowed from a residential area that traverses barangays San Roque and Tinago near Cebu City’s port area.

A fire victim cries after the sight of seeing her home in flames. (CDN PHOTO/BJORN TABANERA)

Faulty wiring

Over a hundred houses in Palma Street were destroyed, officials said. Arson investigators could not ascertain the cause of the fire, but were looking at the possibility of faulty electrical wiring or children playing with fire.

City fire marshal Rogelio Bongabong said the fire started at the house of Nora Villarin and spread fast as most houses in the community were made of light materials. Damage was estimated at half-a-million pesos.

No one was reported injured in the fire that left hundreds homeless.

Some of the affected residents were herded into the community gym which now serves as their temporary shelter.

Emily Anana said she and her husband were alerted by the smoke.

“Ningbaho na man to ug aso. Pagtan-aw namo sa gawas, nanagan ang mga tawo (We smelled smoke and people were already running when we looked outside),” she said.

Anana said they immediately placed their pet puppies and a few clothes in a bucket and fled.

Rodrigo Bicerly, 57 was outside his house along Palma Street in barangay San Roque when he heard shouts of “fire”. He immediately ran to their house where his 75-year-old blind mother was asleep.

“We didn’t save anything. What’s important is that my mother is safe,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Romana Solamares, 67 who works as a cook in an eatery near the Cebu Technological University main campus, said she was busy at work when she saw black smoke billowing from the area where she lives.

She rushed to the fire scene where she saw her two grandchildren crying outside their house.


Residents desperate to save their property tried to help put the fire out by dousing the flames with buckets of water.

Government firefighters, who were in the middle of fire control operations, saw two cats snuggled behind a bamboo gate. They scooped out the cats and took them to a safe place.

A female student who was in her school uniform was pleading with firemen to allow her to get inside their house. “Please! I just want to save my books,” she cried, but the firemen did not budge.

The student however, managed to breach the fire line, prompting firemen to run after her.

She emerged from the house a few minutes later clutching her books and some bags which she carried with the help of the firemen.

Related Stories:

Four fires hit Metro Cebu

Mandaue fire raze 50 houses


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