Cebu News

4 fires usher in 2017 in Mandaue City

Garry B. Lao - The Freeman
4 fires usher in 2017 in Mandaue City
A man looks at the devastation wrought by a fire that occured about an hour into the New Year in Barangay Guizo, Mandaue City.

CEBU, Philippines - It was a busy New Year's Day for firefighters in Mandaue City as they rushed to put out four fires that erupted almost at the same time, leaving at least 551 families homeless.

The fires hit the residential areas in Barangays Guizo and Maguikay, a warehouse in Barangay Looc, and a six-wheeler wing van in Barangay Bakilid.

Mandaue City Fire Marshall Senior Inspector Josephus Alburo estimated the damage in the four fire incidents at P3 million. No fatality was reported.

The first incident happened at 12:11 a.m. Sunday in Barangay Bakilid and involved a six-wheeler wing van. The vehicle reportedly caught fire while being parked near the office of a food company.

The second fire alarm was received at 12:34 a.m. affecting a warehouse in Barangay Looc. The third fire was reported around 1 a.m. at a residential area in Sitio Santo Niño, Barangay Guizo. Five minutes later another fire broke out in Sitio Salvacion, Barangay Maguikay.

"The decision must be quick. All our resources were at the warehouse but when we received another fire alarm, we instructed our fire trucks to pull out and proceed to Maguikay," Alburo said.

Alburo said the fire at the warehouse started at the interior portion and quickly spread in all direction. It took the firemen five hours and 22 minutes to declare the fire under control.

"Hindi na natin ma-contain ang warehouse kasi may nag-collapse na sa loob," Alburo said. They also had difficulty putting out the fire because the warehouse was locked.

Alburo said there were firefighters in the area to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby residential area. Alburo estimated the damage in Looc at P900,000.

In Guizo, there were at least 275 families affected while 276 families in Maguikay. The affected families are temporarily sheltered at the covered court of the respective barangay. Some were given tents.

The Mandaue City fire personnel were augmented by the firemen from the neighboring cities and towns. Alburo said that the firefighters were having difficulty because of the narrow access road, particularly in Guizo.

"I'm not saying nga kuwang atong fire truck, wala man tay problem in responding the fire but the road is very hard lalo na yung access n'ya at marami ding mga tao na nag-otsosero," Alburo said.

The fire in Guizo started on the second floor of the residential house owned by Paunilian Ompong.

"Based sa atong initial investigation, ang hinungdan tungod sa bombilya nga naa sa altar unya pagka-sunog, mga bata ra ang nahabilin nanagan," he said.

A substandard Christmas lights was also being eyed as possible cause of the fire in Maguikay. It started on the second floor of the house owned by a certain Bebot Coyoca.

"Based sa initial investigations, atong gitan-aw ang angolo nga appliances or sub-standard nga Christmas lights ang hinungdan," Alburo said.

There were also accounts that a firecracker started the fire.

Mayor Gabriel Luigi Quisumbing said that he was thankful that no one was killed in the fire.

"One fire is tough enough but three simultaneously? Bananas. Yet, with the help of other volunteers from all over Cebu, we made it through with only minor injuries and no casualties," Quisumbing said.

The mayor said the city will be extending financial assistance to the fire victims as soon as the city social welfare office will submit a final list of fire victims to his office.

The City Council is also scheduled to declare on Wednesday Barangays Guizo and Maguikay under state of calamity. —/FPL (FREEMAN)

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