Hope remains amid the ruins left by Punta fire 

By: Pegeen Maisie Sararana - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | June 12,2022 - 06:39 PM
HOPE REMAINS FOR FIRE VICTIMS DESPITE THE CHALLENGE OF GETTING BACK TO THEIR FEET. Victims of the fire that razed several houses in five sitios of Punta Princesa, Cebu City on Saturday take temporary shelter in a school in the barangay. | Pegeen Maisie Sararaña

Victims of the fire that razed several houses in five sitios of Punta Princesa, Cebu City on Saturday take temporary shelter in a school in the barangay. | Pegeen Maisie Sararaña

CEBU CITY, Philippines — They might go back to nothing after the fire hit their houses but their hopes for recovery remains. 

Some residents have assured themselves that they will start from scratch again in building what the fire has taken from them. But they need help. 

The fire in Barangay Punta Princesa hits at least five sitios, leaving thousands of homeless individuals. 

Latest data from the Cebu City Fire Office (CCFO) showed that several houses in sitios Tuburan, Trinidad, Enriquez, Arca, and Merco were destroyed by the fire.

According to the city’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), some 628 houses were destroyed by the fire last Saturday.

Also, at least 819 families were affected or displaced by the fire, leaving at least 3,000 homeless individuals. 

Most of the victims were temporarily staying at the Punta Princesa Elementary School.

Ignacio Saavedra, 55, one of the fire victims who is currently taking shelter at the Punta Princesa Elementary School, said that they were to supposedly celebrate the fiesta of “Inahan sa Kanunayng Panabang” (Mother of Perpetual Help) today, June 12, but the supposed fiesta celebration did not happen because their houses were razed by the fire. 

Saavedra said that at past 5 p.m. on June 11, they were having a prayer vigil at their chapel, which was suddenly disrupted after they found out about the fire that was already spreading to some of the nearby houses.

His family was not able to take any personal belongings with them, but fortunately, they escaped safely. Saavedra’s house was just at least 10 houses away from Jocelyn Daniel’s house, where the fire allegedly started. 

Saavedra has been living in Sitio Arca in Cebu City for about 55 years already. He said that this was the biggest fire he had ever experienced in the area after what happened last 2013. 

“Maningkamot lang mi nga mubarog pagbalik,” Saavedra said. 

(We are just doing our best to get back on our feet.)

He just hopes that they will receive housing materials, kitchen utensils, clothes, among others from the government and the public to aid their small steps of getting back what they have lost.  

For her part, Sheila Mejias, of the same sitio, also experienced having nothing with them when they evacuated from their house. 

Mejias has two daughters, a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. She is still breastfeeding her youngest daughter to date. 

According to Mejias, they heard a confrontation between Marilou Alfeche and her mother-in-law Jocelyn, before the incident took place. 

Alfeche, during an interview with the media, belied the accusations against her that she started the fire after her husband was arrested for illegal drugs on the same day. 

Alfeche claimed that she only left her house after she was threatened by Jocelyn and four other individuals to kill her and burn their house. She said she left before the fire incident happened. 

She, too, was a victim, Alfeche said. 

Further, even if they were not able to take their things with them, Mejias is still grateful that their two dogs, Whitey and Copper, survived the incident. 

However, Jane’s, Sheila’s niece, three dogs, Kangaroo, Summer, and Browny did not make it. 

The Cebu City Fire Office has also confirmed that there was one casualty from the nearly five-hour long fire that hit the five sitios in Barangay Punta Princesa on Saturday, June 11. 

They identified this as a certain Ebert Feniza, on his 40s. Also, Fire Officer (FO1) Kent Anthony Gargao, 25, sustained first degree burn on his forehead while responding to this huge fire incident.

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TAGS: Arca, CCFO, Cebu‬, Cebu City Fire office, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, Department of Social Welfare and Services, DSWS, Enriquez, Merco, Trinidad, Tuburan

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