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Fire destroys IEC volunteer’s house

(The Freeman) - January 24, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Yesterday was Charlene Dinawanao’s first day as volunteer for the International Eucharistic Congress.  Yesterday was the birthday of her father. Yesterday was exactly two years since her mother left them. Yesterday, their house burned down.

She was in the middle of the opening mass of the 51st IEC at Plaza Independencia, Cebu City yesterday afternoon when she received a text message. “Nasunog og apil ang ato (Our house was among those that burned down,” it said.

“Mora ko og ka-collapse-son. Wala ko kahibalo sa akong buhaton,” she told The FREEMAN.

She distinctly remembered that it was in the middle of the Gospel when she left the Mass and rushed to their place in Spolarium Street, Sitio Micabaja, Barangay Duljo Fatima, Cebu City.

Charlene, 18, a college student, arrived home seeing nothing but a huge fire burning houses, including theirs.

“Pag abot nako sa lugar, kay dako na kaayo ang kayo ug naugdaw na tanan,” she said.

It was the second fire that destroyed their house, after fire also left them homeless in 2010.

“Second time na ni nahitabo namo. Unya karon, birthday sa akong papa. The very day nga nilakaw si Mama two years ago,” she said.

She did not understand what she felt. She should have been celebrating because of the IEC and her father’s birthday. The fire left her grieving.

She did not see her father during the commotion, and found him only after the last ember has been extinguished.

A friend told her he was back at their place. He was seated on the spot where their house used to stand, with a blank look on his face, when she saw him.

Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak, who heads the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, said the fire razed 45 houses, leaving 65 families or 290 families homeless.  

The city’s Department of Social Welfare and Services immediately distributed food packs to the victims, who are now temporarily staying at the Duljo-Fatima Sports Complex.

Senior Fire Officer 1 Edwin Handayan said the fire, which they placed under control in 20 minutes after receiving the alarm at 5:02 p.m., destroyed at least P400,000 worth of properties.

“Lisod kaayo ang lugar kay ang sunog nagsugod sa interior. Gamay kaayo og space ilang agi-anan, maglisod ta og abot. Nag sumpay-sumpay nalang mi og hose para maabot sa interior,” he said.

Handayan said they have yet to establish the cause of the fire, but initial information they received showed that it was caused by electrical short-circuit.

Despite what happened, however, Charlene said she will continue serving the EIC, where she is a volunteer of the Commission on Migrants of the Archdiocese of Cebu.

“O mopadayaon pa ko og volunteer,” was her short reply. —Reinhard Julius O. Buhia, Jan Michael T. Lumayag with a report from Jean Marvette Demecillo/RHM

 

ACIRC BARANGAY DULJO FATIMA CEBU CITY CEBU CITY COUNCILOR DAVID TUMULAK CHARLENE CHARLENE DINAWANAO CITY DISASTER RISK REDUCTION MANAGEMENT COUNCIL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE AND SERVICES DULJO-FATIMA SPORTS COMPLEX EDWIN HANDAYAN FIRE
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