Fire hits 21-story Manila building, no reports of injuries

MANILA, Philippines — A fire raged through the top floors of a 21-story residential building in the Philippine capital on Monday in the middle of a scorching summer and officials say firefighters managed to guide residents to safety.

Mayor Edwin Olivarez said by telephone that more than 100 firetrucks battled the blaze that hit the Pacific Coast Plaza condominium in Paranaque city, where one lane of a coastal road along Manila Bay was closed due to falling debris. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

“We were able to bring to safety all those waving for help,” Olivarez said.

A firefighter was later given first aid due to fatigue.

Investigators will inspect the floors gutted by the fire, which was put under control about three hours after it started. The fire apparently started in or near the garbage chute that runs from the top to the ground floor, Olivarez said.

At the height of the fire, dark smoke billowed from the mid-section of the top five floors, leaving a black stain on the white facade of the building, which Olivarez said was built more than two decades ago. Many Chinese citizens have moved into the condominium in recent years, he said.

Fire officials say more than 100 fires have hit the Philippine capital this summer, more than in the previous year, mostly because of faulty electrical connections and unattended candles and gas lamps. Some of the fires quickly spread in densely packed shantytowns.

The Philippines has a poor safety record blamed largely on weak enforcement of regulations and past corruption.

A nightclub fire killed 162 people, mostly students celebrating the end of the school year, in suburban Quezon City in the capital in 1996. Many of the victims were unable to escape because the emergency exit was blocked by a new building next door.




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