Fire Destroys 100-Year-Old National Landmark In The Philippines

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A massive fire destroyed a 100-year-old landmark in the Philippines on Sunday, with teams of firefighters reportedly battling for hours to bring the blaze under control.

The fire erupted in the basement of the Manila Central Post Office just before midnight May 21, the Associated Press (AP) reported Monday. The Neo-classical, five-story building is recognized as a national landmark in the country. Fire crews worked to put out the massive flames throughout the night, finally managing to bring the blaze under control more than seven hours later on Monday morning, according to the outlet.

An initial investigation into the damage revealed the internal wooden structure of the 100-year-old building had been burned from the basement to the third floor, National Capital Region’s Bureau of Fire Protection director Nahum B. Tarroza told CNN. (RELATED: Criminal Activity Likely Not The Cause Of Notre Dame Fire, Preliminary Report Finds)

“It’s very saddening because this is such an important part of our history,” Tarroza remarked, telling reporters the books and papers housed within the post office had likely contributed to the intensity of the fire.

First built in 1926 and designed by Filipino architects Juan M. Arellano and Tomás Mapúa, the post office sits along the Pasig River in the capital city of Manila, according to CNN. Though damaged in World War II, the building was restored in 1946 with much of its original appearance preserved, AP reported. In 2018, the building was deemed an “important cultural property” with “exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance to the Philippines.”

Damages from the fire are estimated to be approximately $5.4 million, Manila Mayor Maria Sheilah “Honey” Lacuna-Pangan announced, according to CNN. Even so, the city reportedly has plans to restore the landmark. “The City of Manila will work with the national government to jointly help restore the original structure of the Manila Central Post Office where it once stood,” she said.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.