Saturday, January 12, 2013
A Note from the Management of the Burned Establishment
A note from the management of the establishment:
It's been a long and very sad day.
My apologizes for starting a new thread, but I wanted to have the story, as we know it, on top and away from the media misinformation in the other thread. What a terrible tragedy!
The fire started around 3 AM in the area behind the toilets at Rum Jungle. This area is our office space and houses accounting, administration, marketing and facilities. We also use it for storing T-shirts, some stock and lots of documents.
There were 6 or 7 deaths. We had two separate counting groups, so I still am not sure. All but one person died in their room - most likely from smoke inhalation. There were 2 or 3 Filipinas and the remaining foreigners. We believe there were 3 Americans, 1 Korean and on Englishman. We were told there was one girl in the room and one in the stairwell. About an hour ago, we were looking around the hotel and spotted another body of a girl huddled in the space under the desk. I am not sure if the fire inspectors missed her or forgot about her - thus the confusion. It's a sight that will haunt me for a long time; probably the rest of my life.
We had working smoke detectors and emergency lights and a number easily reached fire extinguishers (but these would have been of little use). The building was fire safety inspected in March, and passed all requirements.
Unfortunately, the 2 fire trucks in Barrio Barretto are inoperable, and we had to call the brigade from Olongapo. It took them about 30 minutes to get from City Hall to the hotel. There are horror stories about firefighters refusing to take action until receiving payment for services. When the brigade arrived they went into immediate action. There were 3 trucks and 2 water trucks plus 2 ambulances. The equipment they use is rudimentary; mechanical ladders, poor fitting rubber suits, undersized safety helmets, etc. Yet these brave men did not hesitate to climb the ladders to the balconies, enter Rum Jungle and the Complex and do their best to extinguish the fire.
The investigation that followed was thorough and professional. They sifted through the ruins, gather evidence interviewed many of the staff and all was done with courtesy and all due politeness. Once the offices had cooled down, we were allowed to remover our safes. One had over P1,000,000 in one, which NO ONE asked about nor hinted about a payoff.
There are no words that can express my sorrow and sincere sorrow about what happened nor my most heartfelt condolences to the victims' families. I also want to sincerely thank the Barretto and Angeles communities for their unqualified outpouring of sympathy and support. To Simba (Hot Zone), Pok Pok Boy, Prima, Tommo (always the first to offer help), Navy Jim, Bruno and JJ, Jimbo (VFW), the representatives of the RAO, Tom Wicke - I will never forget your kind words. To Bret, Dave K, Phillip, FRGC (Bill), Don, Daisy, Jeff, all 11 of our mamasans and the scores of staff who were there; you've proven yourselves the best staff, managers and friends I could ever deserve; my gratitude for being there through this very long night.
I'm not a religious person, but tonight, I'll be saying a few prayers for those who left us too soon. Please join me.