Monday, March 12, 2012

News Update Cebu mayor pushes for ‘quick P10,000’ for fire victims

CEBU -- Mayor Michael Rama wants City Hall to give P10,000 in “quick cash aid” to each family that lost a home in the fires that hit different communities recently.
Even as Rama admitted that City Hall’s system of giving aid to fire survivors can be made better, two more fires broke out in the city Sunday.
A candle allegedly started a fire in Sitio Kaunlas, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, Sunday afternoon, destroying three houses.
A few hours later, another fire broke out in Sitio Sunshine Valley, Barangay Quiot-Pardo, Cebu City, gutting three houses.
These were the ninth and tenth fires in the city this month, which is Fire Prevention Month.
Cebu City Fire Marshall Aderson Comar said they received the alarm regarding the fire in Lahug at 3:18 p.m. The fire was declared under control after three minutes.
No one was injured, but the fire damaged an estimated P50,000 worth of properties.
An initial investigation showed the fire may have started in a home where a family had lit a candle to say their prayers.
According to one of the fire survivors, Sita Tamoan, the other family’s candle was accidentally knocked over and the homeowner panicked.
“Nag-panic na siya unya nidako na ang kayo (The homeowner panicked and the flames grew bigger),” Tamoan, 42, said.
Three families or 13 residents were displaced.
Another survivor, Carmen Melgar, 42, said she heard an explosion before the fire began, and they helped douse the flames using pails of water.
Comar, in an interview, urged the public to exercise caution, such as unplugging their appliances to prevent accidents.
Some fire trucks took time to get to the scene because they got lost, Comar said.
Lahug barangay councilor Mary Ann Delos Santos said they planned to set up tents nearby as temporary shelter for the survivors.
“They will be given assistance but there’s no need to declare a state of calamity,” she said.
A few hours later, another fire that devoured three houses broke out in Sitio Sunshine Valley, Barangay Quiot-Pardo, this city.
A sudden downpour helped extinguish the flames. Fire officials received the alarm at 5:10 p.m. It wasn’t clear what started the fire.
Interviewed separately, Mayor Rama said the survivors of recent fires need immediate cash so they can buy clothes and other personal items.
He intends to tap the City’s calamity funds, which will be possible if the City Council declares the areas hit by fires under a state of calamity.
“Aside from relief goods and housing materials, they should also be given quick cash assistance so they have something to buy immediate needs, since most of the victims have nothing left after the blaze,” Rama said.
He instructed Alvin Santillana of the Quick Response Team to attend to it and ask for a cash advance so the City can give the aid to the displaced families in Pardo and Suba.
Representative Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) already promised to give P10,000 in cash assistance to the families whose houses were destroyed by the fire in Barangay Suba last Friday.
After the fire that hit Barangays Suba and Poblacion-Pardo, City Fire Marshall Aderson Comar advised the villages to activate their Barangay Risk Reduction and Management Council (BRRMC).
Comar said the BRRMC should then create a group to assess the fire-prone sitios in every barangay and come up with recommendations.
Firefighters found it difficult to put out the fire in Sitio Lucimba, Pardo because of its narrow roads.
Comar also recommended that the interior roads in all densely populated areas be widened, so they won’t find it hard to penetrate during an emergency.
“If the barangays lack funds for the widening or restoration of their roads, they can ask the City Council so it will be funded,” Comar said.
Rama said he already told Santillana to initiate the creation of the BRRMC as well as the barangay fire brigade.
The mayor also instructed the Department of Social Welfare and Services to assist the families whose loved ones died in the Pardo blaze.
At least three people were killed while three more suffered burn wounds in a fire that gutted 22 houses and damaged three others.
The mayor also plans to ask his allies in the council to propose a resolution to extend financial aid to the families of the victims. (Sun.Star Cebu)