April 27, 2022

Fire Hits Adventist Regional Headquarters in Central Philippines

Rapid intervention helped to save the building after possible air-conditioning explosion.

Nadeth Quinto, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review

A fire broke out at the Central Philippine Union Conference (CPUC) building in Cebu City on April 23, 2022 in the evening, as reported by the Cebu City Fire Office.

CPUC guard-on-duty Ronald Monreal and his fellow security guard, Jedito Mahawan, who happened to be in the office when the incident occurred, shared that they heard a blast at about 8:15 p.m., like a motorcycle crashing into something. They decided to locate the source of the blast sound.

The fire started in the CPUC cafeteria, where it was reported that one of its air-conditioning units may have malfunctioned and exploded. This caused thick smoke to cover the whole dining facility, making it difficult to stop the crawling fire. 

“When we entered the door to the dining hall, we saw fire inside. So, we grabbed a fire extinguisher, but we could not use it because of the thick cloud of black smoke coming out from the hall,” Mahawan recounted. 

“A young man who is a Barangay Kamputhaw personnel [a local public officer] happened to be walking nearby and noticed what was happening. He told us to call the Barangay Kamputhaw police officer from a nearby building while he would call the firefighters. In five minutes, the firefighters arrived and helped us put out the fire," he added.

Cebu City Fire Office (CCFO) reported that they received the fire alarm at around 8:46 that night, and the firefighters arrived at the CPUC headquarters at 8:53 p.m.

The CCFO then raised the first alarm but eventually declared the fire under control and announced it had been put out.

Firefighters estimated property damages at around 1.3 million Philippine pesos (around US$25,000). They also reported that the faulty air-conditioning unit could have caused the fire.

CPUC president Eliezer T. Barlizo Jr. expressed his gratitude to God for sending people to help put out the fire after the blast in the dining hall of the regional church headquarters.

“Thank you so much to our CPUC security guards, fellow workers, and concerned Barangay Kamputhaw personnel for the immediate help, and most of all, to all the firefighters for the quick response to the incident,” he said.

CPUC treasurer Renito C. Inapan said that the situation is a reminder from God to all of them. “We see how the Lord protected the building, but we should not be confident that everything is OK. We should always check and regularly clean the air conditioner units,” he said.

When the news about the fire spread, CPUC workers offered prayers for God's intervention. Prayers and concerns also flooded in from church members around the world. 

In an interview, CPUC executive secretary Calev B. Maquirang said the Lord has His providential way of showing an immediate response in times of great need.

“The Lord is faithful, and He is always there for us,” Maquirang said. “Thank you so much for your prayers. I know that God will provide for the damages.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.