DESPITE being six-months pregnant, 33-year-old housewife Irene Cabido managed to get her six children and herself away from the fire that razed her house and 93 others in sitio Sto. Niño, barangay Quiot, Cebu City at past 2 a.m yesterday.
Cabido and her 42-year-old husband Josefero, a freelance shell craft laborer, carried a TV set and a box of clothes from their home several minutes after they were awakened from their sleep.
“Gatuo mi nga naa’y nag-away kay daghan man nagyawyaw sa gawas (We thought that there was a commotion because it was too noisy outside),” Cabido said.
Cabido said when she checked outside, she saw a red-hued sky.
Cabido said she had a headache and could hardly walk while carrying the box of clothes.
She said her family needs a sleeping mat, a casserole and kitchen utensils while they stay temporarily in the open court.
Cebu City Fire Marshall Aderson Comar said the fire which started in the two-story house of Aquilina Cabaluna was placed under control 18 minutes after it was reported to them.
The fire scene was about 300 meters away from the main road and the pathway was narrow.
Survivors used folded carton boxes and nylon sacks as mats on the concrete floor. A tarpaulin was placed on the court to give them shade.
Nelfa Calooy, a 66-year-old widow, said she ran barefoot when the fire broke out at her neighbor’s house. Calooy wasn’t able to save anything except her pair of slippers.
Calooy said she was asleep when the fire occurred and she was awakened by her neighbors.
Calooy woke up her 31-year-old daughter-in-law Mary Ann Lastimosa who lives beside her house.
Lastimosa and her 41-year-old husband Nelton Calooy with their five children ran out of the house for safety.
Calooy’s house is just a meter away from Cabiluna’s house.
Lastimosa’s 8-year-old son Anthony and his siblings were absent from school.
Anthony said his school bag, books and uniform were burned.
Quiot Barangay Captain Vicente Ramos, Jr. declared sitio Sto. Niño a calamity area.
He said sitio Sto. Niño is the biggest sitio in barangay Quiot which has about 2,000 residents and 38 sitios.
Another survivor, 19-year-old Rachel Villarta, carried her two-year-old son while her three-month old daughter slept on a carton box under tents they used as temporary shelter in the open near Ramos’s home.
“Ambot nalang, unsaon kaha namo pagtukod og bag-ong balay (I don’t know how we would build another house,” she said.
Mildred, a Grade two pupil, said she saved her bag filled with books and school stuffs but not her uniforms.
Social worker Tessie Fernandez said they expect to have portable toilets installed in the area any time today.
Ramos said most of the affected residents are illegal occupants who lived in the site since 1982. /Rhea Ruth V. Rosell, Reporter with Correspondent Chito Aragon