Girl, 4, dies in boarding house fire | Inquirer News

Girl, 4, dies in boarding house fire

18 families in Parian lose homes 11 days before Christmas
/ 08:35 AM December 15, 2013

A 4-year-old girl burned to death while six other persons, including three children, were injured in a fire that destroyed two boarding houses in barangay Parian in Cebu City early morning yesterday.

Maria Alexa Mutoc was sleeping with a younger brother and their 53-year-old guardian, Bernardo Ortiz, when fire broke out at 4:30 a.m. in a two-story boarding house at the corner of D. Jakosalem and Bonifacio streets.

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According to Rebecca Saducas, who used to be the girls nanny, Ortiz told her that he awakened Maria Alexa then carried 2-year-old Princess Ren out of the burning house.

But Maria Alexa failed to get out of the room on the second floor. Her body was charred beyond recognition when found later, said arson investigator SF01 Lowel Opolentisima.

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It was the fourth fire to hit Metro Cebu in five days.

Investigators have not established the official cause of any of the fires, which hit crowded, interior residential areas in barangay Carreta,Tejero, Quiot and Pardo in Cebu City on Dec. 10 and 11, then barngay Umapad in Mandaue City on Dec. 13.

In the Parian fire, the mother of the two children, Flordeliza Abapao, worked at night and was not around when the fire broke out.

A househelp Ednalyn Calisin, 28, was identified as the children’s companion when the fire struck

Ortiz and Princess Ren were taken to the Cebu City Medical Center for treatment of burn injuries along with Ednalyn Calisin, 28; Mary Irene Simbajon, 6; and Matthew Justin, 2.

A firefighter, F03 Alexander Labuga, was also wounded in the hand.

Ortiz in a radio interview said he tried to carry the two girls out of the room, but he lost his grip on Alexa. He ran outside the house and left Princess so he could go back for Alexa, but the room where he had left the girl was already engulfed in flames.

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“Pag syagit nga naay sunog, gibitbit dayon nako ang duha ka bata pero ang akong nadala kay si Princess ra kay na buhian nako si Alexa,” he said.

(When I heard somebody shout ‘fire,’ I immediately grabbed the children but while I was able to carry Princess, I lost grip of Alexa.)

Ortiz suspects that the fire started from the room beside the one which they occupied.

Arson investigator Opolentisima said the fire started in a room on the second floor rented by one Roberto Wong. The room was adjacent to that occupied by the Mutoc kids.

From the boarding house owned by Jose Castro the fire quickly spread to a neighboring three-story building that had also been converted into a boarding house.

Opolentisima said the two structures were razed to the ground. He said they were still investigating the cause of the fire since the room where it originated was used as a stockroom and no one was inside when it broke out.

The fire was put under control at 4:49 a.m. and was declared totally out at 9:16 a.m., he said.

At least 18 families or 91 individuals were affected by the blaze. Damage to property is estimated to reach P400,000. Those who lost their homes are temporarily taking shelter at the barangay hall.

The city government’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) distributed packed meals at breakfast yesterday. DSWS chief Ester Concha said the city will provide food to the victims for the next three days.

Social workers from the Cebu City government were sent out yesterday to check on the condition of the five individuals who were taken to CCMC

Ester Concha, head of the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), said social workers will have to assess the condition of the injured victims before the city extends aid for their treatment.

Concha said she will also be visiting the funeral parlor where the remains of the 6-year-old girl, Ma. Alexa Mutoc was taken brought so she could talk to the girl’s parents and check on what help they need.

As standard practice, the city government gives P10,000 burial assistance to the family of a dead resident.

“Tabanganan gyud ni kay luoy kaayo bata raba ni. (They bady need help especially a child was involved) Pero I will have to talk to the mother first,” said Concha who also expressed her dismay over the series of fires which hit the city in the last few days.

“Kanus a pa man kaha ni mahuman. Hapit na raba ang Pasko,” she added. (When will this end? Christmas will soon be here.)

It was the fourth fire to hit Metro Cebu this week.

Around 250 houses were destroyed in barangays Carreta and Tejero in a fire last Tuesday. Another 175 houses burned down in barangays Quiot and Kinasang-an on Wednesday while 40 houses were destroyed in barangay Umapad in Mandaue City Friday morning. /with reports from correspondents Jhunnex Napallacan and Edison delos Angeles and Inquirer

 

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