By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN
SAN Francisco, Agusan del Sur–All five family members who were trapped inside their bedroom were charred to death in the tragic fire at the town center here shortly before Monday midnight.
Neighbors said the father, Kim Abelita, 42, managed to get out of the house but went back again to rescue his wife and three young girls, but the fire spread so quickly that it was already too late to save their lives.
Senior Fire Officer 2 Allan Salvaña, local fire investigator of the Bureau Of Fire Protection (BFP), said in a matter of five minutes they were already at the fire scene when a man riding on a motorcycle alerted them about the incident, but the fire had already devoured 90 percent of the semi-concrete house when they start to put off the blaze.
The charred remains of Kim, his wife, Marivic, 36, a public school teacher, Lynde, 10, Maveric, 6, and Rianna ,3, shrunk like charcoaled dolls and beyond recognition, Salvaña said.
Salvaña said based on their initial investigation the cause of fire could have stemmed from short circuit on electrical wirings as neighbors noticed flickering of lights in the living room which have been unattended for several days.
A neighbor, Ian Subibe whose house is just beside the gutted house of the Abelitas, said he saw Kim running around the house and was in panic desperately looking for a way for an exit where he could pull his family out to safety to no avail prompting him to take the already razed living room leading to the bedroom.
Subibe said he tried to help Kim but was taken aback when he heard an explosion possibly coming from an LPG tank in the kitchen.
Neighbors noticed the twinkling of lights on the living room when they brought the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Abelitas home for their nightly novenas. The icon which was set to be transferred on Tuesday to another home was already nowhere to be found at the fire scene.
Firefighters have prioritized pointing their water cannons to Subibe’s residence and other nearby shelters which are just at the back of the high firewalls of two commercial buildings since the ill-fated house of the Abelitas was already gutted down into ashes when they arrived at the scene.
Salvaña said Kim, a burly six-foot man, could have saved his family should he smashed down the side window with wooden jalousies for their safe escape but according to witnesses he was overwhelmed by panic and desperation.
It was raining hard at the time of the incident, but this did not help put off the ferocious fire.
Senior Fire Officer 4 Salvador Radaza, local BFP chief, said because of the incident, his men will step up an awareness drive to the townsfolk about fire safety, particularly prevention from faulty electrical wiring now that residents are using Christmas lights for the Yuletide season.
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