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Centenarian killed in fire

Bryner L. Diaz (The Freeman) - September 26, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - If 101-year-old Juanita Cañete Arcaya had not died in a fire, who knows how long she would have lived?

Arcaya was killed after a fire engulfed her house in St. Michael Village, Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City.  She reportedly fell asleep while smoking a cigarette past 10 a.m. yesterday.

Her charred remains were found after fire officers checked her room where the fire reportedly started.  

Cebu City Fire Marshall Rogelio Bongabong said it is likely that the cigarette might have caused the fire, but they will still conduct an investigation.

He said that the alarm was received at 10:12 a.m. and was declared under control 20 minutes after firemen arrived at the scene. Bongabong estimated the initial damage of the fire to be around P100,000.

The fire did not spread to any neighboring houses.

Bongabong said the fire originated at the room of the centenarian and she might have been trapped inside the room, being too old to move.

Arcaya’s room is situated in a corner of the second floor.

The victim’s daughter Leonora Palompon said she tried to rescue her mother but she could not do it alone so she shouted for help.

Sylvia Sim, Arcaya’s granddaughter, said that the fire really originated from Arcaya’s room. She said she tried to save her but when they opened the door the fire already engulfed the place and the heat and thick smoke made it impossible to enter.

Sim added that at Arcaya’s age she was still able to walk on her own but could only move slowly. Arcaya was also described as woman who was respected and looked up to by her neighbors.

Police Officer 1 Michael Angelo Singson said Arcaya’s remains were brought to St. Peter Funeral Homes.

The city government is set to give financial assistance to the family of Arcaya. But while Arcaya’s family claimed she was 101 years old at the time of her death, the city government has yet to verify this so her family can avail of the P100,000 cash aid provided for centenarians under City Ordinance 2235.

However, Department of Social Welfare and Services head Ester Concha said that based in their records, Arcaya had yet to turn 100 years old this month.

“So, unta a day after her birthday supposedly mobalik sila sa office para ma-assess nato. We only have three contenders for 100 years old and I don’t see her name in the list,” she said.

She said that she will inform  Councilor  Gerardo Carillo, chairman of the committee on social services, of the issue.  Concha, however, assured DSWS will still give financial assistance to the family of Arcaya.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said that there is a need for the city government to assess and evaluate the documents to verify the age of Arcaya.

Labella, who authored CO 2235, said that Arcaya’s family can still avail the P100,000 aid even if she is dead, as long as it is proven she was 101 at the time of her death. — with Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/BRP (FREEMAN)

 

ARCAYA BARANGAY KASAMBAGAN BONGABONG CEBU CITY CEBU CITY FIRE MARSHALL ROGELIO BONGABONG CITY ORDINANCE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND SERVICES ESTER CONCHA FIRE GERARDO CARILLO
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