By Monica Chloe Condrillon
PHOTO: Aldo Nelbert Banaynal/The Freeman
Days after surviving Super Typhoon Odette (Rai), misery of Cebu City residents was intensified after a total of 24 recorded fire incidents hit the city following Odette’s devastation last December 16.

Lack of electricity in most areas due to the devastation of Typhoon Odette urged the residents and establishments to use emergency lights, generator sets, and candles that rooted most of the fire incidents after the typhoon.

The latest incident happened last Monday, January 3, in Cebu City’s largest market in Carbon Public Market Unit 2, leaving an estimated amount of P900,000 of total damage.

Investigation by the Cebu City Fire Office (CCFO) says that an overheated generator set may have caused the fire.

"Based sa among initial investigation, sa ikaupat nga andana nagsugod so among naabtan didto is ang katong generator. So naay posibilidad. Anyway ongoing pa man ang Investigation ana,so among gitan-aw is basin katong generator nga ilang gigamit didto," CCFO Senior Fire Officer 3 Emerson Arceo, said.

(Based on our initial investigation, the fire started on the fourth floor and we found the generator located there, so there’s a possibility. Anyway, the investigation is still on-going so we are still seeing the possibility that the generator being used there could have caused the fire.)

Recently, in the last two days of 2021, two separate urban villages in Cebu City experienced fire incidents consecutively that caused the residents to face new year in homelessness.

The first blaze happened in Sitio Obca, Barangay Quiot on the evening of December 30 and was possibly caused by an unattended lit candle inside a household whose family is dining out, the fire damaged nearly P800,000 of properties in the sitio and razed 17 houses.

On the other hand, an ‘improvised’ candle made of salt and oil is said to be the cause of the second fire in Sitio Capaculan, Barangay Tisa on the morning of December 31 that destroyed P900,000 worth of properties and 25 houses.

‘More cruel than Odette’

Prior to the said incident, Barangay Tisa also recorded a fire in Sitio Mansanitas when they had their Christmas Day ruined after a fire broke out that affected over 300 individuals and killed a 26-year-old man with mental illness that was chained inside the family’s house on December 25.

Some Tisa fire victims described their experience as ‘More cruel than Odette’ since they didn’t have the chance to save clothes, basic necessities, and essentials as the fire quickly spread due to strong winds in the area. 

These 24 fire incidents left an estimated damage amounting to P25 million, and no more reported fatalities aside from the Christmas Day fire victim.

“Na-foresee na bitaw nato ni nga after sa bagyo naa gyuy posibilidad nga dako ang risgo sa sunog. Ngano man? Kay wala man tay kuryente, so mogamit ta og kandila, mogamit ta og lampara, unya magpundo ta sa atong panimalay og flammable substances sama sa gasolina, kerosene, diesel,” CCFO Senior Fire Officer 2 Wendell Villanueva said.

(We had already foreseen a huge risk of fire incidents after the typhoon. Why? It’s because we don’t have electricity so we are forced to use candles, lamps, and we store flammable substances such as gasoline, kerosene, and diesel in our houses.)

He added a reminder for everyone to ensure safety and turn off candles and oil lamps at night when everyone sleeps.