By NITZ ARANCON
A CAPITOL engineer and her family lost their entire house to a fire which she blamed on a line of the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco).
The situation was aggravated because of an unfinished drainage construction project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that prevented fire fighters from getting near the burning house on time.
Misamis Oriental assistant provincial engineer Tessie Gales said the fire was sparked by a grounded Cepalco line that came in contact with her house’s roof. She said the line sparked following a downpour late Thursday afternoon.
Thursday’s fire at Phase 2, NHA Subdivision in Kauswagan destroyed Gales’s approximately P2.7-million three-story house, excluding other properties that went up in smoke.
Gales’s claims raised serious questions on the liability of Cepalco in the event that fire investigators conclude that the fire was caused by the utility firm’s line.
Fire Insp. Willie Lim, who led fire fighters in dousing the flames, said investigators were looking into the assertions of Engr. Gales and other witnesses but pointed out that they could not jump to conclusions at this time.
“Under investigation pa nato kini nga fire incident,” Lim said.
Lim said fire fighters quickly responded after they were informed about the fire that broke out at NHA-Kauswagan but they were prevented from getting near Gales’s house because of an unfinished drainage construction project of the public works department.
He said fire fighters found themselves at a loss and looking for a roundabout way to the burning house.
Carmen fire station chief SFO3 Samson Velarde said firefighters knew that they were near Gales’s house but they had to ask residents for directions. He said the people they asked about an alternate road were uncooperative and did not provide useful information.
“Nangutana kami asa mo-agi ang fire trucks, walay motug-an. Na-ay pay ubang motorists nga bisag nakadungog sila sa siren sa fire trucks nga nagsunod nila, dili magpadalpin, dili mohatag dalan,” Velerde complained.
Lim said,“Dili man gud makasulod atong mga fire trucks, ma-oy hinongdan nga nalangan ang atong firefighting operation kay nagsumpay-sumpay paman ta sa atong mga fire hose.”
Velarde said the situation required fire fighters to interlink hoses so they could douse the flames. The nearest fire truck was parked some 400 meters from the burning house.
Gales said her family failed to save anything because the fire quickly spread, and everything happened suddenly.
Lim said the fire broke out at around 5:30 pm and it was contained at around 6:43 pm. A “fire out” was declared at around 7:30 pm Thursday.