Fire hits 21-story Manila building; 1 dead and 5 injured

MANILA, Philippines — A fire raged through the top floors of a 21-story residential building in the Philippine capital on Monday in the middle of a scorching summer, killing an elderly woman and injuring five other people, officials said.

Mayor Edwin Olivarez said by telephone that more than 100 firetrucks battled the blaze at the Pacific Coast Plaza condominium in Paranaque city, where one lane of a coastal road along Manila Bay was closed due to falling debris. An elderly woman was found dead in the upper floors and five other people were injured, fire officials said.

A firefighter was given first aid due to fatigue.

Investigators will inspect the floors gutted by the fire, which was put under control about three hours after it started. The fire apparently started in or near the garbage chute that runs from the top to the ground floor, Olivarez said.

At the height of the fire, dark smoke billowed from the mid-section of the top five floors, leaving a black stain on the white facade of the building, which Olivarez said was built more than two decades ago. Many Chinese citizens have moved into the condominium in recent years, he said.

Fire officials say more than 100 fires have hit the Philippine capital this summer, more than in the previous year, mostly because of faulty electrical connections and unattended candles and gas lamps. Some of the fires quickly spread in densely packed shantytowns.

The Philippines has a poor safety record blamed on weak enforcement of regulations and past corruption.

A nightclub fire killed 162 people, mostly students celebrating the end of the school year, in suburban Quezon City in the capital in 1996. Many of the victims were unable to escape because the emergency exit was blocked by a new building next door.

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Associated Press video journalist Joeal Calupitan contributed to this report.

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