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.