5 firemen, 2 others hurt in fire that hit decades-old Manila Central Post Office

Five firefighters were hurt in a fire that hit and destroyed the decades-old Manila Central Post Office in Lawton, Manila Sunday night, May 22.

Photo courtesy of BFP/ MANILA BULLETIN

According to the Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP), injured were Joel Libutan, 36, Carlo Abrenica, 24, Julio Erlanda, 43, Jeremy Roque, 30, and Josaphat Araña, 26.

Toto Doslin, 43, a fire volunteer, also sustained laceration at his left hand, while a civilian Elain Dacoycoy, 16, was reported to have a possible fracture.

The fire, which started at 11:41 p.m., quickly escalated and reached the second alarm at 12:28 a.m., as per the report. Subsequently, the third, fourth, and fifth alarms were raised at 02:17 a.m, 4:28 a.m., and 4:32 a.m., respectively.

The fire continued to intensify, leading to the declaration of Task Force Alpha status at 4:36 a.m., Task Force Bravo at 4:45 a.m., Task Force Charlie at 5:02 a.m., and Task Force Delta at 5:25 a.m.

As of 5:54 a.m., the fire reached the General Alarm level.

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

More than 80 fire trucks were sent to the decades-old landmark after the blaze broke out late Sunday, the BFP said.

Thick, black smoke billowed hundreds of meters into the sky as flames gutted the neo-classical building that overlooks the Pasig River.

It took firefighters more than seven hours to get the inferno under control.

"The whole building has burned down from the basement all the way to the fifth floor," Postmaster General Luis Carlos told DZBB radio.

The cause of the blaze was being investigated, he said.

Fire brigades from across the capital deployed personnel to fight the blaze.

Originally built in 1926, the post office was once considered the "grandest building" in Manila, according to its website.

It was destroyed in World War II as US forces recaptured the capital from Japanese occupation forces, and rebuilt in 1946.

The Philippine National Museum declared the building an "important cultural property" in 2018.

Letters, parcels, and the postal agency's entire stamp collection were in the building and are likely destroyed, Carlos

Throughout its existence, the Manila Central Post Office has experienced numerous trials, including the ravages of war and previous fire incidents. The most notable occurred in 1945 during the Battle of Manila in World War II. Efforts were made to restore the historic building to its original grandeur.

However, the latest fire presents a new challenge, with the extent of the damage yet to be fully assessed.

The Manila Central Post Office has historically served as the primary location for the operations of the Philippine Postal Corporation. (With AFP)