TACLOBAN CITY- A four-hour fire incident greeted this city during the coming of the New Year in Pericohon district, displacing 110 families in the process. The fire, raised to second general alarm by the fire officials, gutted down 69 houses of Barangay 56, Pericohon district, at 12:19 am, said fire investigator SFO2 Levino Caya of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Tacloban office. Caya said that it took them a while before they could penetrate the burning area due to narrow pathways of the village which made it difficult for them to bring in their fire hoses.

“We had to look for a way where we could get close to the fire scene,” the fire officer said. For the residents of the village, the experience was worse than what they went through when Tacloban was hit by supertyphoon “Yolanda” two years ago. “At least when Yolanda hit us, we’re able to save some of our belongings unlike now. What we have are just our clothes at our back, “Joseph Solayao, 50 and a father to 6 children, said.

Solayao said that he was lying on his bed when his son informed him that the house of one Salvacion Murillo, located just few meters from their house, was hit by a fire.
He, together with the rest of his family, went out of their house bringing nothing with them. When Yolanda hit Tacloban, their house only sustained minor damages, he said. “And we were able to save some of our things,” Solayao said. “But now, it’s all gone,” he said, referring to their house that was razed to the grounds due to the four-hour fire that was officially declared fire out by fire officials at 3 am. For Joy capili, 36, what was important was the safety of her family.

“We ran out of the house. We were able to bring only our civil registry records placed in a cabinet,” the mother of four said. Just like the rest of the victims, Solayao and Capili took temporary shelter at their respective relatives. Several others were also housed at the social hall of the Redemptorist Church which is near the village. SFO2 Caya said that, as of press time, he could not say yet what could be the cause of the fire. “But we are not ruling out the possibility that it could be due to a firecracker,” he said, referring to the claims of some witnesses that a “kwitis” hit the house of Murillo, 60. Murillo and her daughter Vivian managed to get out of their two-story house, Caya said.

The blaze spread so fast as most of the houses in the village were made of light materials and located close to each other. Fire stations from the towns of Palo, Tanauan, Babatngon, Alangalang, Sta. Fe and those from the Chinese chamber provided support to the city fire in putting out the fire. Village chairman Cesar Advincula said that the fire hit 69 houses involving 110 families comprising 660 individuals. The offices of Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and the City Social Welfare and Development immediately provided assistance to the fire victims by giving them food and clothing. (JOEY A. GABIETA)