Fire razes historic APEC Villas clubhouse

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Fire razed on Monday morning the APEC Villa clubhouse here where 18 economic leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) met for the historic summit in 1996.

According to witnesses, the fire started at around 7:40 a.m. after they heard small explosions coming from the ceiling of the clubhouse lobby. Seeing that a fire was starting, people inside the building evacuated the premises, witnesses added.

Three fire engines from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), accompanied by one water tanker from the Philippine Red Cross, immediately rushed to the scene to put out the fire.

Volunteers led by SBMA Deputy Administrator Rani Cruz also assisted in the operation.

SBMA Fire Chief Ranny Magno said the fire was put under control at 8:15 a.m. and was finally declared “out” at 9:26 a.m.

The fire destroyed the clubhouse lobby, as well as the sales office and show units of MSK Group Work Inc., a Taiwanese construction and engineering firm that is developing the P2-billion Triboa Majestic Bay Residences condominium project nearby.

A diorama of the Triboa project that was prominently displayed as centerpiece in the lobby was also reduced to ashes.

Meanwhile, SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator Ramon Agregado, who inspected the fire scene, cited the SBMA Fire Department for its fast response.There was no report about the fire, but our firefighters observed the smoke plume from across the bay and decided on their own to check it out,” Agregado said.” Because of their pro-activeness, a lot of damage was prevented.”

The historic clubhouse was part of the APEC Villa complex, which hosted economic leaders from 18 Asia-Pacific nations during the 1996 summit, the eighth APEC meeting in history and the first held in the Philippines. Those who attended the summit included U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Last year, the Taiwanese firm MSK took over the clubhouse, which will be an integral part of its beachfront condominium complex. (Dante M. Salvana)