Relief goods distributed to Sagkahan fire victims
TACLOBAN CITY- The fire that gutted down more than 250 houses at the Sagkahan district, this city, last Sunday has prompted a member of the city council to call for a special session for purposes of declaring a state of calamity of the affected areas. Meanwhile, fire victims continue to receive relief goods from different sources.
Councilor Jerry Uy, a member of the minority bloc at the council, said that by declaring a state of calamity, assistance to the affected individuals would be hastened.
This is because, he added, the calamity funds both of the city government and that of Barangay 60-A, the village which was hit hard by the fire incident last Sunday, could be utilized.
“The city (government) and the barangay can give aid to the affected families utilizing the five percent calamity fund,” Uy, in a text message, said.
Uy said that he hopes that the special session could be held today so necessary assistance could be extended to the affected families.
The Sunday fire incident has rendered homeless some 1,500 people after it razed 266 houses. An estimated P32 million loss has been initially reported.
According to city fire marshal Chief Inspector Adel Bautista, three witnesses pointed to the house of a certain Melody Mendoza where the fire started in the one of the city’s depressed areas. Old Road, Sagkahan is part of Barangays 60, 60-A and 58, which is at the fish port near the Astrodome.
Mayor Alfred Romualdez rushed to the scene of the fire incident and immediately directed the city offices of social welfare and development, health and police, among others, to provide assistance to the affected residents.
Bautista said that his office received a fire call at around 10:30 in the morning on that day prompting them to respond the call and putting off the fire which engulfed the affected villages at 12:10 p.m.
“We find some difficulty in putting out the fire due to the strong winds that resulted for the fire to spread rapidly.(And) majority of the houses were made of light materials,” Bautista said, responding to question as to while the fire quickly spread in just a short time.
The fire was so big that fire stations from the nearby towns of Palo, Tanauan, Alangalang, Sta.Fe, Tolosa and the Chinese Volunteer Fire Brigade assisted them, Bautista said.
As to the cause of the biggest fire incident in the city since the start of this year has yet to be established.
Riza Docena, 26, said that she heard a big explosion and later saw a big smoke and flame coming out from one of her neighbor’s houses.
“I immediately woke up my husband (Alexander) and ushered all my four children out from our house, using a blanket as our cover from the heat. We were not able to bring anything during our escape,” Docena said.
Another fire victim, Armida Villa, 36, said that she was attending a Church service when she heard sirens and asked where the fire incident was.
“When I learned that it was in our village, I immediately rushed out from the Church together with my husband and my three children” Villa said. “Our only consolation was we are all safe,” she added.
But the family of Cristina Roben, 68, was somewhat lucky as their house in Brgy.61 was not burned down but still chose to take temporary shelter at the nearby Tacloban Convention Center where several families affected by the fire were housed by the city government.
“We were able to bring some of our personal belongings and important documents. We will return to our house once everything returns to normal,” she said.
Many quarters provided relief assistance after the fire. City Councilor Cristina Romualdez visited the affected barangay after the fire and distributed relief goods including milk for babies at the Astrodome.
The Philippine Red Cross Leyte Chapter 143 volunteers responded immediately for any first aid concerns. “It’s good there were no fatalities or wounded. Some fire volunteers of the fire chamber brigades suffered of exhaustion but were immediately addressed among themselves. There are 320 homeless families but still to be validated by the City Social Welfare and Development. There are 266 families evacuated at the Tacloban Convention Center or Astrodome and 54 families at the mini-gymnasium in Barangay 58. We will distribute used clothing and canned goods to the victims tomorrow,” Marcela Parsatonga, administrator of Red Cross said.
On the other hand, the office of Representative Florencio “Bem” Noel of the An Waray party-list put up temporary shelter made of tents at the mini-gym at Old Road, Sagkahan. An Waray volunteers also packed immediately relief goods and distributed to 168 families under Barangay Captain Popoy Mojados and 10 families under Brgy. Captain Noel Tupas.
Gallons of water were likewise provided to the families as well as generator for electric use at the gymnasium. An Waray also provided desk assistance for the victims for the shelter rebuilding assistance, its executive assistant Bert Malate said.
By Joey A. Gabieta, Staff Writer
& VICKY ARNAIZ, Correspondent
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