Fire out at Manila Pavilion after 25 hours

Rambo Talabong
Fire out at Manila Pavilion after 25 hours
The death toll from the blaze stands at 5, with 24 others injured

MANILA, Philippines – After 25 hours of facing flames and smoke at the Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel & Casino, firefighters have declared “fire out,” signaling the end of an inferno that killed at least 5 and injured 24.

Flames broke out in the hotel at around 9:30 am on Sunday, March 18, generating clouds of thick smoke at the Ermita District in Manila.

The fire was only put out the next day at 10:56 am, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Acting General Manager Jojo Garcia told Rappler in a text message.

The death toll includes 4 Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) employees and another unidentified corpse recovered near the hotel’s CCTV room.

How the fire started: The blaze erupted from the ground floor and spread to the rest of the 22-story hotel, authorities announced in a Sunday evening press briefing.

Firemen arrived at 9:53 am on Sunday, immediately raising the 3rd alarm. By 11:32 am, the fire alarm peaked at Task Force Bravo, or 3 levels higher than the initial declaration. The higher the alarm, the more firefighters are allowed to be called to respond.

The fire was declared under control at 8 am on Monday, before authorities fully put out the flames around 3 hours later.

Why it took so long: Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) officials said on Sunday that the smoke inside the hotel was too thick, preventing firefighters from immediately entering.

It also did not help, fire officials said, that the hotel was heavily lined with carpets and curtains which produce heavy smoke when torched.

Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) chief Johnny Yu added in an interview with DZRH that the hotel’s sprinkler system didn’t work.

If the sprinklers had functioned, Yu said, it would’ve been easier to battle the blaze. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.