THE Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) ruled that the cause of fire that gutted the historic Manila Central Post Office Building in Liwasang Bonifacio in May was purely accidental in nature.

The BFP has considered the case closed.

The 97-year-old structure, which had been considered a national landmark, was destroyed by the fire that raged for more than 30 hours. The blaze started around 11:40 p.m. of May 21 and it was declared fire out at 6:33 a.m. of May 23.

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The Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost), said in a statement, that it already got hold of the fire clearance certificate issued by the BFP.

The BFP report stated that the fire originated at the southern part of the building’s basement, particularly at the Mega Manila Storage Room where office supplies, thinners and paint cans were piled in close proximity to car batteries.

It stressed that the combustibility of the load contents and its enclosed setup influenced heat build-up that resulted in an explosion and subsequent conflagration.

It was also found out that based on pieces of evidence gathered, the statement of a witness and the result of laboratory examinations, the fire broke out due to “sudden self-discharge of car battery (sulfation) resulting in thermal run-away, causing sudden build-up of heat and pressure and eventually cause the explosion.”

“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 report added.

Postmaster General Luis Carlos said they welcomed the result of the investigation, which was conducted by the BFP immediately after the fire damaged the historic building.

“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,” he 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. (LMY/PR)