Sib­lings per­ish in As­turias fire


Don’t leave small chil­dren unat­tended at home and keep com­bustible things away from their reach.

Fire au­thor­i­ties again is­sued the re­minder af­ter two sib­lings, aged five and two years old were lost to a fire, Thurs­day morn­ing, in the town of As­turias, south­west of Cebu.

Balam­ban Fire Sta­tion chief In­spec­tor Arra Fa­jardo said that based on their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the fire may have been caused by one of the vic­tims play­ing with a lighter.

Fa­jardo said that Maria, 26, mother of Mar­i­lyn, 5, and Si­mar Franz Pal­icte, 2, told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that she caught her el­dest child play­ing with a lighter on Wed­nes­day, which even gut­ted their cur­tain.

But af­ter rep­ri­mand­ing Mar­i­lyn, she put the lighter back in its usual place in their kitchen, where it can be reached by the child.

Maria, who just got a job this week as a farmer, two kilo­me­ters away from the house, de­cided to leave her chil­dren alone, locked in­side their house while she was farming. She thought that it would be safer for them.

“Pan­galawang araw na daw niyang ini­i­wan ang mga bata sa ba­hay, while she is work­ing sa farm, kasi maulan. Ti­na­tal­ian niya ang door, para di makal­abas ang mga bata, para daw di madis­grasya. At di na­man maabot ng mga bata ang bin­tana, kahit nung five-yearold,” Fa­jardo re­layed to CDN.

(It was her sec­ond day work­ing in the farm while leav­ing her chil­dren at home be­cause it was driz­zling. She tied the door to pre­vent the kids from go­ing out, think­ing that it would also pre­vent ac­ci­dents from hap­pen­ing. The chil­dren could not reach the win­dows, even the five-year-old.)

Maria’s hus­band and fa­ther of her two chil­dren, Fran­cisco Pal­icte, was at work in Cebu City.

Trau­ma­tized and feel­ing very guilty for leav­ing her chil­dren, Maria told po­lice to ar­rest her.

“Sin­abi­han niya ang mga po­lice kagabi , na iku­long na lang siya dahil nga daw na­matay sa sunog ang kanyang mga anak sa ka­pabayaan nya. So­brang na- trauma din ta­laga ang ina. Du­mat­ing yung ama kagabi, tu­lala, hindi maka­pagsalita ng makita ang bangkay ng mga bata.” Fa­jardo told CDN.

(She told po­lice last night to just put her in jail be­cause, she said, her chil­dren died due to her neg­li­gence. She is se­verely trau­ma­tized. When the hus­band ar­rived, he was in shock and could not speak when he saw the corpses of his two chil­dren.)

Fa­jardo said the re­mains of the chil­dren were found ly­ing side by side in the cor­ner of their room. The house was made of light ma­te­ri­als. It was to­tally gut­ted by fire when the neigh­bors ar­rived.

Some of them even heard the cry of the chil­dren, but it was too late for them to save them, said Fa­jardo.

“Ha­los wala din sa mga ba­hay nila yung mga kapit­ba­hay nung mang­yari ang sunog, kasi ku­mukuha sa Pantawid cash grants nila. When they saw it, wala na, malapit ng matupok ang ba­hay,” she added.

(Most of the neigh­bors were also not home when it hap­pened be­cause they were out get­ting their Pantawid cash grants. When they saw the house, it was al­most razed to the ground.)

Fa­jardo said it was al­ready 12 noon when the Balam­ban Fire Sta­tion re­ceived the call from the As­turias Po­lice Sta­tion, ask­ing for a fire in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

Po­lice ini­tially did not yet know that there were ca­su­al­ties in­side the burnt house.

The house was lo­cated on top of a hill which could not be pen­e­trated by fire trucks.

Fa­jardo said they would have needed 15 to 20 chained hoses to reach the house.

“Sana mag­ing les­son sa la­hat yan not to leave chil­dren es­pe­cially ages like those, alone in the house, kahit ilang min­utes lang yan (even just for a few min­utes) . And please do keep all the match­sticks, lighters, kerosene, kahit mga paint or any com­bustible things away from the reach of chil­dren, kasi kadalasan yan ang nagig­ing sanhi ng sunog (be­cause those are usual causes of fire) and can even cause the death of the chil­dren in a fire,” pleaded Fa­jardo.

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