Cebu News

27 houses in Talamban affected: 2 kids die in fire

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Kimberly Llorag, 27, was tending to her employer's house in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City at noon yesterday, the only work she knows how to provide for her five children.

Unknown to her, not so far away in the neighboring barangay of Talamban, a fire broke out in her own house in Sitio Hillside and spread quickly to 26 other houses.

Kimberly went home to nothing but ashes and debris and the charred bodies of two of her children.

"Dako nakong pagmahay nga wala sila masalbar," she said, tears streaming down her face.

Kimberly said it was a friend who told her a fire had hit her village. She dropped everything at work and rushed home but it was too late.

Her sons Terence John, four years old, and Bryle Cedric, two months old, were already gone.

Kimberly said it was her brother, Ryan, who was looking after the children as her mother had to go to the school of two other kids to fetch one whose classes would end at noon.

One other child stays with the parents of her estranged partner.

Ryan said he was sleeping on the ground floor when he heard his cousin, Gerald, screaming that a fire broke out. He said he rushed to the second floor to his nephews' room but the smoke was already too thick.

"Una nako gibuhat nisaka ko sa taas kay akong duha ka pag-umangkon. Pag-abli nako sa ilang kwarto, dako na kaayo og kayo. Dili na gyod makaya mosulod. Naa na sa pultahan sa amo pod sala. Kon wala pa ni singgit akong ig-agaw, apil pod mi og ka sunog. Wala ko kabantay," Ryan said.

Gerald told investigators he still heard the two boys scream when the fire broke at Kimberly's house.

"Kadungog nga sige'g hilak ang mga bata pagsugod sa kayo. Paggawas nako, dako na kaayo ang kayo. Nisyagit nako og sunog kay wala may nakabantay sa balay nga nasunog na diay. Wala ko kadagan sa ilang balay kay gisigoro pod nako akong anak kay dako na gyod ang kayo," Gerald said.

Initial probe

Investigators said the fire started at the room on the second floor where the two boys were staying. The fire started shortly before 12 noon but the bodies of the two boys were found only more than an hour later.

The pain, however, may not end here for Kimberly and the other residents.  If it is proven that the lot where their houses used to stand is owned privately, they may not be able to rebuild their homes there - unless the city government can negotiate with the owner.

Genevieve Alcoseba, chief of the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP), said they are now verifying the ownership of the lot.

If the lot is owned by the city, however, the city can re-block the area before the survivors can start anew.

Until then, Kimberly can only cry in pain for what her two children had suffered.

Wiping tears away from her face, she shared with The Freeman: "Si Terrence, super ka sweet. Suod kaayo sa akong mama. Mag-birthday karong October 5. Last niyang sulti nako pagbuntag kay magpapalit siya og pizza inig birthday niya sunod semana," she said.

Fire Officer 3 Novo Erana said his colleagues did not find the bodies of the two boys immediately as they were pinned down and covered by the galvanized iron roof and other debris.

"Dugay nakit-an ang lawas kay nadat-ugan sa sin. Naa sila sa second floor," Erana said.

He said the fire may have been caused by either a ceiling fan that overheated or that one of the boys may have been playing with a match. 

The city's Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) said 24 houses were damaged and three were burned partially.

The 40 families (200 individuals) affected are staying temporarily at the barangay's sports complex.

Fire Marshal Rogelio Bongabong, Jr. said they received the alarm at 11:58 a.m.

It was reportedly difficult for his men to reach Kimberly's house because of the narrow interior road. It took firefighters about 30 minutes to put the fire out completely.

Aside from this, his other men also had to respond to another fire alarm in Barangay Labangon. (FREEMAN)

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