91 families left homeless by Inayawan fire

JOEFY Ceremones never imagined his newborn son would celebrate his first month in an evacuation center.

He was fanning his baby who was asleep on the floor with a blanket as cover to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Ceremones and his 17-year-old wife will be spending the rest of the holiday at the sports complex of Barangay Inayawan, Cebu City along with 77 other families.

On Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, fire struck Sitio Lourdes, razing 45 houses and displacing 91 families, or 314 individuals.

Ceremones, together with the owner of the house where he worked as a helper, may have lost a home but that won’t stop them from celebrating Christmas.

He said they weren’t able to save anything except for their lives, adding they had no choice but to accept what happened.

He said what they and the other survivors need most now is cash since they plan to look for a new place to rent.

On Saturday, Dec. 21, employees of the Inayawan Barangay Hall were supposed to have their Christmas party but Barangay Captain Kirk Bryan Repollo said they changed their plans.

Instead of having a buffet, they distributed packed meals so the fire survivors would be able join in on the celebration, Repollo said. They also participated in the games and the raffle, he said.

“At least, even for a while, they will forget their problems,” the barangay official said.

The Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) has been providing food to the survivors.

Just like any other fire incident, the DSWS will also provide cash assistance. However, this will take time since it has to undergo a process; the same with providing them with housing materials.

Repollo said the fire scene is private property, but the City will help the survivors negotiate with the owner so they can return to the area.

Fire Insp. Asraf Graf, ground commander during the incident, said they received the alarm at 4:37 p.m.

The fire was raised to second alarm three minutes later before it was raised to third alarm at 5:59 p.m.

According to initial investigation, the fire started in the house of couple Joseph and Clarissa Bonghanoy.

Damage to property was estimated around P100,000.

The Bureau of Fire Protection Cebu City is still trying to determine the cause of the fire that was declared under control at 5:20 p.m., although there were reports than an unplugged phone charger might have been the culprit. / JJL WITH A REPORT FROM BBT / PJB