Faulty wiring, arson eyed in Star City blaze

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    Inferno. Firefighters could do little as a raging fire razes amusement park rides and other establishments at the Star City complex in Pasay City. --- PHOTO BY RHOY COBILLA
    Inferno. Firefighters could do little as a raging fire razes amusement park rides and other establishments at the Star City complex in Pasay City. --- PHOTO BY RHOY COBILLA

    STAR City, the amusement park most accessible and affordable to Metro Manila residents, was razed by a four-hour fire early yesterday morning and will be closed likely for a year for renovation.

    Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) spokesman Jude delos Reyes said the agency is looking at all possible angles, including electrical problem and arson, as the cause of the fire that damaged property estimated by Pasay City Fire Marshall Supt. Paul Pili to be worth P15 million. A Star City official pegged the amount of damage at P1 billion.

    “We are looking at all angles. It could be faulty electrical (wiring) but it will take time because we are still inspecting the debris at the site,” Delos Reyes said.

    The possibility of arson is also being investigated after Lisa Macuja, wife of Fred Elizalde, the amusement park’s owner, showed a suspicious social media post to authorities stating that “Star City will die.” The post, circulated two days ago on Twitter, has been deleted as of yesterday.

    Pili fueled speculations that arson can’t be ruled out when he said that firefighters who rushed to the scene wondered out loud why different parts of the establishment seemed to start burning at the same time.

    BFP National Capital Region director Chief Supt. Wilberto Kwan Tiu said around 80 to 90 percent of the park was destroyed by the fire that started at around 12:27 a.m. and put under control at 4:30 a.m. As of yesterday morning, smoke still billowed from the area.

    Atty. Rudolph Steve Juralbal, vice president for legal affairs of the Elizalde Group of Companies, said they intend to reopen the amusement park in October 2020.

    Packed on weekends, the 3.5-hectare Star City complex is home to 38 rides and amusement games, fastfood joints, restaurants, plus the Manila Broadcasting Company and Aliw Theater that were totally destroyed.

    There was no casualty but three firefighters sustained injuries, according to Pili.

    Firefighters responded immediately to the fire, with around 70 fire trucks from the BFP and fire volunteers from Metro Manila descending on the area.

    “Firefighters were able to respond quickly, but the area was just too large and much of the structures were made of light materials. There were props that were made of carton, cotton. That’s why the fire spread so quickly,” said Pili.

    Ed de Leon, Star City spokesman, said personnel who were still at the complex when the fire started claimed the blaze came at the stock room where prizes for games such as stuffed toys and other plasticware were stored.