TIMELINE: The deadly fire in Tisa where 4 children, including an infant, perished

By: Emmariel Ares, Morexette Marie Erram, Paul Lauro November 23,2023 - 07:03 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Tragedy struck two families in Brgy. Tisa, Cebu City on Thursday morning, November 23 after a fire killed four of their kin, including an infant.

The fatalities happened to be siblings, ages between 10 and one year old, and their 11-month-old cousin.

The children were believed to have been trapped inside their house in Upper Capaculan, Brgy. Tisa.

Three more individuals also sustained injuries. They were Pristine Cabornay, Gelou Cabornay, and Zachary Blake Carbornay, all of whom were relatives of the deceased children.

The fire started at the house owned by a certain Gemma Cabornay.

It was made out of concrete and wood, and two families, both Gemma’s relatives, lived there. A huge, wooden plank also separated the two families.


Here’s a timeline of the deadly fire, based on information from witnesses, victims, and officials at the Cebu City Fire Office (CCFO).

Early Thursday morning (Around 3 – 5 a.m.)

All parents were reportedly preparing to start their day while the children remained asleep.

The father of the three deceased siblings, who worked as a delivery driver, departed the house after 5 a.m. while his wife went outside to cook food to sell in an eatery.

Between 5:40 – 5:51 a.m.

A member of the Cebu City Fire Station who resided nearby called his office when he noticed black, smoke rising towards the sky.

By 5:51 a.m., the city fire station dispatched a total of 36 firetrucks to respond to the fire.

5:55 a.m.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and immediately raised the first alarm due to the density of the houses, majority of which were made of light materials.

Between 5:56 a.m – 6:10 a.m.

It was during this time when the adult relatives of the four dead children attempted to save them while firefighters doused the flames.

A relative of the victims, namely Elmer Cabornay, also recalled how the fire quickly spread.

In an interview with Cebu-based radio station dyHP, Cabornay said that he jumped out through the window in their house’s second floor when he noticed the blaze.

He was about to run away from the fire but saw his brother and his sister-in-law, the parents of the 11-month-old fatality, still inside Gemma’s burning house. The mother was still able to hold the baby briefly.

Cabornay said he turned around and quickly grabbed the two adults away from the fire.

He also tried to go back to rescue the four children, adding that he saw them from the second floor of the burning house waving their hands, and asking for help. But he was unable to save them due to the flames and thick smoke.

6:11 a.m.

Approximately 15 minutes after responding to the scene, firefighters managed to put the flames under control.

6:15 a.m.

‘Fire out’ was officially declared. Fire officials said a total of seven houses burned down. The fire displaced 30 individuals and destroyed properties worth P525,000.

At this point, relatives of the four children approached fire investigators and asked for their assistance in locating their offsprings.

Between 6:16 a.m. and 7:07 a.m.

After receiving reports about the missing children, fire officials immediately searched the scorched area for them.

They first discovered the remains of the three siblings on what remained of the ground floor of Gemma Caburnay’s house.

7:08 a.m.

A few minutes later, fire officials confirmed a fourth fatality – the 11-month-old infant.

All children were burned beyond recognition.

7:10 a.m. and beyond

The father of three siblings went back after learning that a fire erupted in his residence. When he arrived, he was devastated to find all his three children in ashes.



While fire officials determined that the fire began in Gemma’s ill-fated house, investigations continue to find out what started the blaze.

According to Senior Fire Officer (SFO2) Wendell Villanueva, information officer of the Cebu City Fire Station, they will look into all possible angles.

Villanueva also said they believed the children had been trapped. Firefighters also continued to verify if the windows had iron grills, which could have prevented the victims from escaping.

Fire officials discouraged residents from putting iron rails on their windows, which can serve as alternative fire exits.


Family grapples with loss of 4 children in Tisa Fire

4 kids die in fire in Brgy. Tisa, Cebu City

Cebu City gov’t to provide housing materials, shoulder hospital bills for Tisa fire victims

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TAGS: Cebu City, Cebu City fire, Cebu City Fire Station, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, fire

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