Pregnant woman, two kids die in Zarraga conflagration

By Jennifer P. Rendon 

A pregnant woman and her two children perished in a late evening fire in Zarraga, Iloilo.

Lilibeth Hechanova, 37, who was four months pregnant with her third child, and her children Mateo, 9, and Mico, 4, failed to get out of their burning house at Barangay Pajo after the fire erupted around 11 p.m. on April 21, 2020.

Senior Fire Officer 3 Gamaliel Borro, Bureau of Fire Protection-Zarraga Station chief, said a motorist informed them of the incident around 11:11 p.m.

Fire fighters arrived at the scene eight minutes later.

“But the blaze already engulfed the entire house,” Borro said.

The house is made of mixed materials. It was elevated from the ground with the floor made of bamboo.

Borro suspected that the family of three tried to get out of the house through their window.

Lilibeth’s husband is currently in Manila.

But Borro said he had no other details, except that there were no other occupants aside from the three victims.

Initial investigation indicated that the fire could have originated near the entrance of the structure. Thus, the victims opted to run for safety through the window.

Borro said the window was made of jalousies with bamboo slats for improvised grills.

They still failed to get through the window.

Borro said they could have died of suffocation.

The bodies of the three victims were later recovered at the ground floor after their bamboo floor gave way amid the conflagration.

Borro said the fire was placed under control around 12 a.m. Tuesday and was totally quelled 11 minutes later.

Fire investigators are yet to determine the cause of the blaze.

“But we are looking at two angles,” Borro said.

According to Lilibeth’s sister-in-law, she learned that her sister burned dried leaves in the backyard earlier that evening.

Investigators also believe that the cause of the fire was electrical in nature.

Borro said damage to property was pegged at P50,000.