After a tornado, it's a fire...

20 August 2016

The last thing that you want to hear in the middle of the night is someone shouting "Fire! Fire!" at the top of their lungs.  And that's exactly what happened last August 20 in Sampaloc, Manila.  We've had similar experiences with fires in Sampaloc.  That time when a tanker blew up in the street fronting our compound and when there was a fire across the street from us.  This time, our house was flanked on two sides by a huge fire  - on our left and in front.  Let me tell you how it went....

I went to our bedroom at around midnight, passing by Dana in her bedroom and telling her to sleep as she was still fiddling with her phone.  I was getting ready for bed and I noticed that the light was flickering and I thought that maybe we'll have a power outtage.  Then, I heard a commotion outside and I thought it was just some random fighting, as it is usual if you live in our neighborhood.  Still, I went to the window to listen carefully and I heard my cousin shouting for my two uncles at the top of her lungs.  Her next screams chilled me because she was yelling "Sunog (Fire)! Sa tabi lang natin (just beside us)!

I automatically scanned the horizon from the window but saw nothing.  I quickly ran to Dana's bedroom (which had a different view) and I was horrified to see nothing but a cloudy, smoky red and orange sky and Dana was just staring at it so I yelled to her, "Get out!"

I didn't even notice that she went down and out of the house with that command.  At the 2nd floor, I was trying to wake up Dylan who couldn't grasp the urgency of the moment.  I didn't realize that Patrick went out of the house and into our garage to check.  He came back in a rush and said we had to hurry.  I grabbed our phones, my bag, went to our filing drawer and got out our important documents and ran out with Dylan.  Patrick was getting the car keys and was ready to get the car out of the garage.  It was scary because he also had a Honda CR-Z which he was supposed to test drive and he was responsible for it and now there's a fire!  We saw Dana as we were getting out of the garage and all my relatives were in a state of panic.

At the street, I saw the electric post sparking and then there was a small explosion.  The fire, at this time, was huge, raging and mean.  It was hot where we were and I thought that we should move across the street just in case some gas tanks exploded.

The fire trucks arrived very quickly, about 5 minutes after we left the house, so that was good.  By this time, I lost track of where my other relatives had gone and all I could do was watch as the fire burned.  Dana was crying because she was afraid.  Dylan was fascinated because it was something different.  Patrick and I were saddened that this happened to us and our relatives; horrified that this happened in the first place, and worried at what our house would look like after the fire is gone and what it would cost to repair or rebuild anything.

The fire was contained and pronounced "Fire Out" at around 2AM but we were told that we could enter our house at around 1AM, just that we should be careful.  As Patrick and I walked through the house, we were staggered by the mess and the chaos that we could see through our flashlights.  There was water in our living room, our curtains were wet and on the floor.  Our windows were all wide open.  Dana's room was the same, like a tornado hit it.  Her window was broken and it's shards were all over her bed.  Her bed was soaking wet, as well as her stuffed toys, pillows and some of her books.  The other bed nearby was also wet.  In our room, the curtains were also down but not wet although the windows were also open.  The bed, surprisingly was damp, I'm not sure why.  It's like it got hit with mist from the water hose but the curtains weren't hit.  As I was looking out of Dana's window, I was shocked at what I saw.  There were practically no more houses around.  Then, I heard a firefighter shout that another fire was starting and they were starting to hose down a part of the house in the middle of the carnage.  Patrick and I immediately ran out of the house again.

Outside, we were reunited with our relatives.  Some of our senior citizens were being treated by the Emergency Rescue Team for elevated blood pressure.  Fortunately, no one was hurt though.  By that time, Patrick and I decided that we can't stay in the house that night.  The air was filled with smoke, there was no power, our beds were wet and we didn't have the strength to clean up first.  Dana and I went back to pack up some clothes and we ended up staying the night (or should I say morning) at Patrick's brother's house.  Oh, it was while we were packing that I noticed that Patrick's tablet was gone from where he usually put it.  I thought that he put it somewhere else, but as we were cleaning the next day, we couldn't find it.  I guess someone took it while the fire was ongoing..

So we stayed in Marikina for a while but we came back around 9AM to start the clean-up process.  It was much worrisome now that it's daylight since we can actually see the destruction that last night's fire wrought. (Note: I actually took pictures of the living room but it was too dark and the pictures were discernible.)

My aunt's window, fronting our house
The aftermath, viewed from Dana's window
Dana's broken window
Shards of the window on Dana's wet bed
Windows in front of my aunt's house

We started with removing all wet articles of clothing, clothing and beddings and putting them out to dry on the roofdeck.  There was a bit of sun which was fortunate.  Mattresses were likewise sent out to dry.  Then we started mopping up all the water on the floor and cleaned up with detergent and disinfectant.  Dana's broken window shards were collected and put in a box.  We initially put in a plastic bag layered with newspaper but they were cutting through it.  We also had to remove the window pane and remove the remaining glass on the frame to prevent it from breaking off, falling and hurting someone. We had to do everything room by room and it took us until afternoon to finally finish.

My dad and sister dropped by to check up on us.  It was a good thing too because they brought food! Yay! It was hilarious that my Dad conned my sister into bringing more than what was necessary haha

This was an experience I don't care to repeat.  I feel bad for my aunt and my cousins who had to endure losing their home and everything in it.  It was painful watching it go up in smoke and knowing that you couldn't do anything to stop it.  It made me want to lash out at the irresponsible culprits who caused the fire.  We were all awake for more than 24 hours and we were exhausted from stress, cleaning and worry.

However, I'm so thankful that our house was built with cement that it prevented the fire from reaching the other wooden houses beside us (and these belonged to family as well).  I am thankful to the firefighters who did their best to stop the fire, who arrived within minutes of the call and did a terrific job to prevent the fire from spreading.  I am thankful to Stevie and Toni who put us up for the night and fed us breakfast.  I am grateful to my Dad and my sister Sharon who came to visit and to check up on us.  I am happy that Meralco did their best to restore power as soon as possible.


  1. Good to know your family and relatives are safe, one of the scariest mishap indeed but I like your positivity towards the end =)
    Happy to stumble on your blog, ingats Che

  2. Thanks Marix. Had this blog a long time.. like an online journal of sorts :) Thanks for dropping by :)


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