By LITO RULONA
and NITZ ARANCON
THE city council’s committee on police, fire and public safety would conduct an inquiry into what a councilor saw as a desecration of the dead following the fire that killed five people in San Nicolas, Barangay Puntod on Saturday.
The fire, some two hours after midnight, also hurt at least four people.
Councilor Romeo Calizo, the committee’s chairman, said he was informed by Councilor Zaldy Ocon that fire fighters turned a steel pipe into a hook to bring down a charred body from the second level of what used to be the house of one Melody Cerillo.
Calizo said the body subsequently fell and slammed against the ground as a result.
“Bisan patay na kana, mas maayo gihapon nga ma-observe ang protocols in retrieving bodies kay tawo gud gigapon na bisag patay na,” Calizo said.
He said one reason could be lack of equipment.
He said the committee would summon Bureau of Fire Protection, police and barangay officials, and witnesses so that the panel could find out what went wrong during the retrieval operations.
The fire, the third here this month when the BFP marked Fire Prevention Month, killed members of the Cerillo family identified as Louie, 10; Michelle, 13; Mary Grace, 12; and Mark Kenneth, 21.
Another victim was identified as Ken Marie “Connie” Nandong, 24, of Claveria, Misamis Oriental. She was Mark Kenneth’s common law wife.
SFO3 Imelda Barasan said four residents were rushed to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center after they suffered burns all over.
They were identified as Melody Cerillo and her daughter Mary Joy Cerillo, niece and sibling Terrie Jun and Lilibeth Cerillo.
The 46-year old Melody said she jumped to safety when the fire broke out and waited for her children to jump, too, so she could catch them.
Barasan said initial investigation showed the fire started at the ground floor of the Cerillo house.
The victims on the second floor may have died of suffocation, she said.
“Kini silang siyam mao ang occupants sa maong balay,” she said.
The head of Cerillo family, Edward, said he was sleeping in another house when the fire broke out.
He said he suspected that “electrical overloading” caused the fire.
BFP regional director Senior Supt. Lynde Lauzon ordered a thorough investigation into the fire.
“It’s unfortunate kay daghan ang nahimong casualtoes. Kusog kaayo ang aso unya dugay nakamata ang mga biktima,” he said.
He said it was a relatively small fire but it claimed many lives.
Investigators said the fire started at the kitchen of the two-story Cerillo house and it quickly spread because it was made of highly combustible materials.
Lauzon theorized that faulty electrical wirings cause it but investigators were looking at other possibilities.