Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim was busy signing documents at city hall before noon Thursday when he received a bit of alarming news—the condominium building in Malate where he and his family were staying was on fire.
He immediately rushed home to the 22-story Legaspi Towers 300 at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and Pablo Ocampo Street where he was greeted by the sight of more than a dozen trucks from the Manila Fire District and volunteer fire groups parked in front of the building.
Upon learning that his family and all the other tenants were safe and that the fire had been contained, Lim promptly went back to his office and resumed his work.
Arson investigator Senior Fire Officer 2 Emmanuel Gaspar said that the fire started at 10:55 a.m. Thursday in the unit of a Korean national, Helen Jong, on the 15th floor.
At that time, the unit was empty.
As soon as thick smoke billowed from Jong’s unit, the fire alarm went off and the water sprinklers were turned on, preventing the flames from spreading quickly.
At the same time, the building administrator asked the tenants to leave their units and wait in the lobby until the smoke had cleared.
But since the fire seemed to have been contained, some tenants chose to remain inside their units and watch the firemen at work outside the building.
The members of Lim’s family, who were inside their unit on the 20th floor at the time the fire broke out, were among those who were evacuated.
By 12:43 p.m., firemen had put out the fire by hoisting ladders reaching up to the 15th floor where they trained their hoses directly into the burning unit.
Gaspar estimated the damage to property at P1 million although he clarified that the amount only covered the burnt unit and not the adjacent ones that sustained some water damage.
Initially, there were reports that the fire was sparked by a flat iron that the unit owner had forgotten to unplug.
The arson investigator, however, said that the cause remained under investigation.
Lim, meanwhile, commended government and volunteer firemen for their immediate response.
He also expressed gratitude that none of the residents, including his family, were hurt and that except for water damage, the other units at the tower were spared by the blaze.