BFP report shows Central Post Office fire ‘accidental’

2023 June 6

LAST MAN STANDING. The 48-year-old Mr. Postman statue of the fire-razed Manila Central Post Office in Liwasang Bonifacio seems like “business as usual” at the neoclassical building on Tuesday (May 23, 2023). Damage is initially placed at PHP300 million, including letters, court documents and parcels. 

MANILA – A fire that gutted the iconic Manila Central Post Office in Liwasang Bonifacio on May 22 was purely accidental in nature, the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) said, citing a Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) report.

In a statement late Monday, the PHLPost said the BFP has declared that the investigation is considered closed and solved after determining that “the cause of fire is attributed to sudden self-discharge of car battery (sulfation) to thermal run-away, causing sudden build-up of heat and pressure and eventually cause the explosion.”

“Moreover, the presence of the internal short circuit, the hydrogen and the volatile gases contained in the battery and the presence of oxygen as the oxidizing agent initiated the ignition. The contributory factors and the combustibility of materials fueled and sustained the ignition sequence,” the PHLPost statement read.

According to the fire clearance certificate issued by the BFP, the fire originated at the southern part of the basement, more particularly at the Mega Manila Storage Room where office supplies, thinners, paint cans were piled in close proximity to the car batteries stored inside the room.

“The BFP report stated that the combustibility of the load contents and its enclosed set-up greatly influence heat build-up that explains the explosion and subsequent conflagration, leading to the full development of fire and subsequent damage of the nearby structures,” the PHLPost said.

Postmaster General Luis Carlos said PHLPost would now focus on the rehabilitation of the damaged 97-year-old structure regarded as national historical landmark.

“We welcomed the result of the investigation from the BFP to know exactly what really happened. We will now move on and concentrate primarily on the recovery and rehabilitation of the iconic building,” Carlos said.

Built in 1926, the Manila Central Post Office was designed by Filipino architects Juan Arellano and Tomas Mapua.

It was damaged during World War II, during the Battle of Manila and was restored in 1946, right after the war.