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Fire hits Manila Central Post Office; highest alarm raised

Fire hit the iconic Manila Central Post Office late Sunday night, according to Darlene Cay's report on Unang Balita on Monday.

The report said the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has raised general alarm or its highest fire alarm level.

Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB, BFP-National Capital Region chief Fire Chief Superintendent Nahum Tarroza said five people were hurt.

Some of them experienced difficulty breathing, tripped, and were hit by falling debris. One person, identified as Toto Roslin, 43 years old, was reported injured, sustaining minor laceration on his right hand.

The Unang Balita report quoted stay-in staff as saying that they woke up to thick smoke, prompting them to seek help from the fire department.

The fire reached first alarm at 11:41 p.m. on Sunday, according to the BFP National Capital Region's initial report. It reached Task Force Delta at 5:25 a.m. on Monday.

The BFP said the fire was declared under control at 7:22 a.m.

The fire was believed to have started from the basement and immediately reached the top floors.

According to Mark Laurente, chief of staff of the postmaster general, the fire started from the basement's south side where the maintenance room and the storage room for the Mega Manila Office are located.  Paper and wood materials were stored there, he added.

The management of the Manila Central Post Office still could not confirm if the fire destroyed the letters and parcel inside the building, the Unang Balita report said. 

Asked if the building is no longer useful, Tarroza said, "Opo, total ano po ito, totally burned so 'yung loob po talaga niya, so talagang nakakalungkot kapag ito ay national historical landmark."

(Yes, the interior of the building is totally burned, so it is sad because it is a historical landmark.)

Structural engineers will assess the integrity of the building, which was built in the 1920s, if it should be condemned or repaired.

Authorities are still investigating if the fire was arson or an accident, Tarroza said. —Joviland Rita/KBK/RSJ, GMA Integrated News