SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/23 August) — A 68-eight-year-old woman died in Saturday night’s fire that also gutted more than 200 houses in Barangay Taft, the worst fire incident here in a decade.
Police Chief Inspector Charlie Cabradilla said at least 360 families have been rendered homeless while Surigao City Fire Marshall Peter Sean Antony Atup said at least P10 million worth of property went up in flames.
Atup said the charred remains of Nenita Cabada, who had been bedridden for long, had been found.
The fire started at around 7:30 in the evening on Saturday at the residence of Perlina Gorde in the inner portion of P. Reyes Extension. The house was occupied by one Cherry Maravilla.
The Surigao City Fire Department received the alarm at 7:45 P.M. and quickly called for help as the flames spread across houses mostly made of light materials.
Atup said he raised the fire alarm to the 5th level.
“Eighteen fire trucks responded including a fire boat because it is a coastal area. Cold fire chemicals were also used to effectively suppress the conflagration,” Atup said.
Fire trucks from the Surigao Filipino-Chinese Volunteer Fire Brigade, Surigao Quick Action Response Team, Surigao Air Transportation Office, and the fire stations from neighboring Surigao towns of Tagana-an, Placer, Claver, Mainit and Alegria and even from Agusan del Norte’s Kitcharao and Jabonga came to help.
He said the firefighters found it difficult to put out the fire because of the narrow pathways. The wooden footbridges were also burned.
Atup added the water was not enough because fire hydrants were far from the fire scene. Aso, the fire boat had difficulty in getting water from the sea as it was low tide at that time and the garbage clogged the hose, preventing it from sucking water.
Because of these problems, the fire spread to Nueva Street. It took the firefighters about four hours or until 11:25 p.m. to effectively control the fire.
Atup said his team is still conducting a thorough investigation on what really started the fire.
The Departent of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has set up the Nueva Gym in Barangay Taft as evacuation center along with the Mariano Memorial Center Elementary School.
He said several police personnel have been deployed to the area to ensure no one will take advantage of the fire victims.
Edna Sumaylo, a resident, claimed she was victimized by robbers who pretended to help her move her valuables out of her house.
To her surprise, however, her bag containing some 4,000 pesos, went missing.
Edna’s neighbors also claimed that gas tanks and other home appliances were also stolen. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)