Text and photos by Julius D. Mariveles
BACOLOD CITY – Hundreds of residents lost their homes in a more than two-hour fire that gutted at least 100 houses according to an initial estimate of the local fire bureau.
“We don’t know yet how many were destroyed or partially-damaged,” Fire Chief Insp. Bartolome Biliran told SAID late Wednesday afternoon as officials rushed to provide food and clothing for the affected residents in the sub-villages of San Mateo, Katilingban and Kawayan in the coastal barangay of Banago, a heavily-populated village here.
The hot climate and strong northeasterly winds helped spread the fire, which is suspected by fire investigators to have started from a house in Katilingban that was reportedly burned by its owner who residents said is mentally-deranged, Biliran added.
Firefighters here put out a general alert, seeking help from firefighters in nearby towns and cities amid fears that it would spread to a fire depot that is located only about 100 meters away.
Residents said the petroleum company that owns the depot also helped in putting out the fire.
“This is what remains of my house and refrigerator,” said one resident as he gathered the coils and wires of what was once his cooling appliance while others scoured the fire scene, salvaging whatever remains of their homes and properties – some to be used to rebuild, others to be sold as scrap.
Fire trucks could not pass through the narrow pathways that lead to the community.
Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson said the local social welfare department is still confirming the exact number of residents affected who are now housed at the nearby Domingo Lacson National High School campus but assured them that City Hall will be providing assistance.
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