Former city hospital official, daughter perish in fire at homeCebu Daily News
Bella Veloso would have become manager of a cooperative in the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) this Saturday.
But being a mother first meant sacrificing everything, including her life if need be for 32-year-old daughter Jewel, who suffered from a mental illness.
Yesterday Bella did just that, pleading to a frightened Jewel to leave her room amid the flames that swept the second floor of her house in Phase 1, Camella Homes in barangay Pajac, Lapu-Lapu City, at past 6 a.m. yesterday.
But they were suffocated by the smoke and died near each other as the fire ate up Jewel’s room.
The 74-year-old Veloso managed to wake up her son-in-law who slept with his family in an adjacent room.
The fire only damaged the second floor of Veloso’s house.
Veloso was a former assistant chief of administration of the CCMC and wife of former Sun.Star columnist Wilfredo “Boy” Veloso.
Fire investigators pointed to an overheated fan as the cause of the fire.
SF02 Ignacio Dañosos said they arrived at Veloso’s home three minutes after they received the alarm at 6:32 a.m.
Damages were placed at P250,000. “The remaining electric wires, the fan and other debris from the room of the victims will be sent to Manila for examination,” Dañosos said.
Tom Casia, son of Mrs. Veloso and Jewel’s half brother, said his mother did some laundry at the ground floor and saw the fire as she walked up to the second floor.
Casia, who lived in a separate house nearby, said Veloso then woke up her son-in-law Inocencio Cueme, who slept with his family at the adjacent room.
Cueme and his family went downstairs but Veloso went back for Jewel.
“Pinangga man gyud niya kaayo to akong manghod, siya maoy magsige og atiman adto (She loved my younger sister very much, she would care for her),” Casia said.
SPO1 Manolito Abellanosa, homicide investigator, said the victims may have been suffocated by the thick smoke, which prevented them from reaching the door.
Casia said his mother may have been unable to persuade a frightened Jewel from leaving the room in time.
“Ang ilang lawas naghayang. Ang kang Jewel duol na sa pultahan samtang akong mama sa luyo. Tingale na-suffocate to akong mama samtang iyang gipagawas akong manghod (Their bodies were lying on the floor. Jewel was near the door while my mother was in the opposite side. My mother probably suffocated while she tried to get my younger sister out),” Casia said.
Nelson Paglinawan, a neighbor and president of the homeowners association in Camella Homes, said he immediately called the fire department after receiving news about the fire.
He said Bella was a loving mother to her daughter.
“If she goes out, she always brings Jewel with her most of the time despite Jewel’s difficulties in walking because she was very obese,” Paglinawan said.
Nenita Vibar, Bella’s younger sister, described her as a fighter. “She suffered from breast cancer. She suffered pain in her right shoulder and couldn’t lift almost anything,” she said.
The remains of the two victims were brought to the St. Peter Memorial Chapel in Imus Street, Cebu City, and then cremated last night.
The wake will be held at the Sacred Heart Church Chapel A.
Nearly every day
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza said she will coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWD) to extend whatever assistance to the victim’s family.
Radaza also advised the public to be cautious in using their appliances to avoid causing fire.
Cebu had been experiencing fire outbreaks nearly every day in March, known as Fire Prevention Month.
The fire that struck Bella’s home was the third to occur in Lapu-Lapu City.
Last Saturday, three persons were killed in a fire that broke out in Pardo, Cebu City.
A day before that, a big fire also displaced more than 400 families in Suba, Cebu City.
Last Sunday two fires also broke out two hours apart in two areas in Cebu City, bringing the total to 10 in Cebu City alone.
Two fires broke out in the reclamation area in Mandaue City last week.
The first fire hit a barge in pier 7. Damages were pegged at P50,000.
The second fire broke out the following day at the junkyard of Philippine Span Asia caused by overheated junked plastic fibers. Damages were placed at P3,000. / Jhunnex Napallacan and Norman V. Mendoza, Correspondents