Mayor mulls ‘more permanent’ solutions for Holiday fire victims

Women and children are the most vulnerable victims of fire incidents that hit Iloilo City over the weekend. (Photo courtesy of CSWDO)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on Monday said the city government is considering coming up with “more permanent” solutions after a series of fires burned down houses and families’ holiday hopes to the ground.

Treñas told Daily Guardian that he met with relevant city government officials on Tuesday to discuss relocation plans for victims of these recent fires.

He pointed out that many of the affected barangays and households were located near shorelines which are considered by local authorities to be danger zones, what with illegal electrical connections or simply using gas-powered lamps.

Given these, the mayor said that their greatest consideration is to provide more permanent and safer sheltering solutions but these may take time given that many of the city’s newer housing projects have started development only recently.

“We’ll have to start thinking of more permanent solutions. Our housing projects are not ready yet, so we would have to meet on the proper response [right now], but we’ll see. This cannot really go on to be like this,” he said in a phone interview.

He added that so far, the city government has distributed financial and material (food and non-food) assistance to affected persons.

In light of these incidents, as well as the upcoming New Year’s Eve celebrations, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) released the following set of advice to the public:

–          Avoid setting off fireworks or firecrackers within households, near houses made of light materials, and in places where many people pass by;

–          Keep fireworks or firecrackers, matches, and lighters out of children’s reach;

–          Place lit-up candles away from things that might easily catch fire, like curtains, paper, or plastic;

–          Refrain from making loud noises to allow hearing surrounding smoke detectors or other emergency alarms;

–          Do not smoke cigarettes near flammable objects or areas, and make sure that cigarette butts are extinguished before throwing them in the proper areas; and

–          If going on vacation, unplug all electrical devices and equipment, turn off the main switch before leaving, and ask neighbors or nearby households to check on the houses from time to time.

Three fire incidents hit the city in the last 3 days in Barangays Calumpang and San Juan in Molo, (December 24), Bonifacio in Arevalo (Dec. 25), and Veterans Village in City Proper (Dec. 26).

Data from the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) as of 3:24 p.m. on Monday indicated that 37 houses were razed to the ground while 9 were partially damaged houses, with 110 families and 344 individuals affected.

For emergencies, the public may contact the Iloilo City Operation Center at (033) 323-4973 or 0919-066-2333, or the Iloilo City Emergency Responders at (033) 335-1554, (033) 321-5404, or 0919-066-1554.