700 families in Cebu lose homes to fire
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — At least 700 families were rendered homeless in a fire that gobbled up a coastal community at Sitio Paradise in Mandaue City, Cebu, on Tuesday night.
At least three persons were wounded, including a man who owned the house where the fire started, according to Senior Fire Officer 1 Danny Zamoras.
Damage, he said, was pegged at P1.25 million.
The fire started at 11:46 p.m. Tuesday and was put out at 2:38 a.m. the next day.
Initial investigation showed that the fire started inside the house of Reynaldo Devilleres, who was placed under police custody pending investigation.
In an interview, Devilleres said he used a gas lamp that might have tipped over while he was sleeping.
No power connection
“The fire was not intentional. It was an accident. That’s the truth. I’ve been living there for some time already and there’s no reason for me to intentionally start a fire,” he said in Cebuano.
Devilleres said he had been relying on his gas lamp for light at night since his house had no electricity connection. Devilleres, who jumped out of his house’s window when he noticed the fire, suffered second-degree burns.
Since the houses in the area were made of light materials, the flames quickly spread and destroyed more than 250 structures.
Sitio Paradise in Barangay Looc is a community established under the Mandaue-Mactan bridge, which connects Mactan Island to Cebu mainland. Most of the houses there are built on stilts.
Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said families displaced by the blaze were taken to Mandaue City Central School so they can have temporary shelter.
“We put up modular tents to provide the evacuees a comfortable place to sleep,” he said.
The city’s mobile kitchens were also deployed to provide food to the affected families.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Cortes assured affected residents of the city’s assistance.
“To my brothers and sisters in Sitio Paradise, do not lose hope. The city government is here to help you. We can rise from this tragedy,” he said.
—DALE G. ISRAEL
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