I was preparing lunch earlier when I heard our neighbor living in the third floor came in and shouting something I could not understand. She was running frantically back and forth so I asked her what was happening and why is she on a panic mode. She told me that a house behind our apartment is on fire!
I immediately finished the food I am cooking and shut off the gas tank. Then, I went to our rooftop to see how big the fire was. I was taken aghast when I saw how big the fire was! Right that instant, I returned to our unit and instructed the kids not to go out and stay inside the house. I told them the house on the other side of the street is on fire and we have to pack our things, just in case we need to evacuate.
Without any second thought, I sent my husband a text message, posted status on my Facebook wall, and looked for a friend who is currently online and lives within the area to seek assistance should we need to bring our things out of the house. I would not be able to carry those big cabinets and tables alone! Horace was correct when he said "Your own property is concerned when your neighbor's house is on fire."
While waiting for a response from my husband and friends, I instructed my kids to bring their school bags, uniforms, and shoes out of the house. I looked for the folders where we keep all our important documents, which I placed inside a large bag together with other essential things that we need to bring. Afterwards, I went around the neighborhood to inspect the extent of the fire.
It was a good thing my husband was in Las Pinas area when he received my message so he was able to arrive home in less than half an hour.Janese of Lakwatsera Mom saw my Facebook status and called my husband to inform him. She also called to check on how we were doing. Thank you, friend!
My uncle who lives on the next subdivision was also online so I was able to send him a message and asked him to send another text message to my husband as he did not reply to the text message I sent. My mom's cousin, upon hearing of our situation, also arrived to render help. The power of technology!
Firetrucks arrived right away and they were able to stop the fire from spreading to nearby houses although a couple of houses were already affected because nobody noticed the fire until it had gone big. Firetrucks from nearby towns of Imus and Kawit also arrived to assist the local firemen. However, despite the efforts of both our neighbors and the firemen, more than 10 houses were burned down.
When we saw that the fire was already under control, I went to check the damages further, I saw our neighbors' belongings and personal stuff by the roadside. From our roof deck, we also saw other neighbors as they bring their properties to safety.
I realized one of the houses that was gutted down by the fire was the store where my children buy their favorite longganisa. I felt so sorry for the store owner and her family so I immediately approached her, comforted her, and offered some help. They were not able to save anything except the clothes they were wearing.
According to Manang Sabel, the store owner, the fire started on one of the houses behind theirs. When they saw the fire, she instantly called her daughter-in-law with her newborn baby to go out of the house. She also brought the physically-challenged child who lives in the burning house outside. She was unable to go inside the house anymore when they went out as the fire had started to eat up their home. They now do not have anything except the clothes on their bodies. As the old adage goes, "It is okay to be robbed 10 times than your house burned down."
The fire went under control after two hours but our electricity supply was put off until around 4PM. Meralco, the local electric distributor, shut down the supply for safety purposes as there were wires that may have been damaged. As a matter of fact, we saw a transformer sparked while we were watching the fire being put off on the rooftop of our apartment building.
Tomorrow, I will be looking for Manang Sabel and we will bring them some of our old clothes and some personal stuff to help them restart with their lives. I understand how it feels because my sister and her family were also a fire victim a few years back. But that is another story. I will ask my children to accompany me so that they will see for themselves how life becomes when you lose your house and everything you have on it. This is also another way of teaching them the value of sharing and generosity.