MANILA -- (2ND UPDATE) The Star City amusement park in Pasay City appears to have been deliberately set on fire, authorities said Sunday.
All collected pieces of evidence and samples inside the gutted Star City point to arson, Pasay City Fire Marshal Paul Pili told reporters.
Pili noted that an inspection of the gutted amusement park showed that there was “gasoline in an area where it should not be.”
The fire that gutted Star City erupted at 12:22 a.m. Wednesday and was believed to have started in the stockroom of plushies and an assortment of prizes.
Flames quickly spread to other parts of the building and huge plumes of smoke were seen billowing into the sky. The blaze was brought under control at 4:30 a.m. on the same day.
Pili noted that the way the fire spread inside the complex can only be viewed as arson.
He explained that a certain Mr. Wong along with some personnel went inside the Star City complex with sacks of cotton on the day the fire happened. The personnel, however, did not log in.
“Bakit hindi nag-logbook? Nag log-book siya pero hindi niya ni-logbook mga kasama niya," Pili said.
When asked if the fire city chief is implying that there is a possibility that the officers of the Star City Corporation may have started the fire, he answered affirmatively.
Pili, however, stressed that authorities have yet to obtain the amusement park owners' testimony.
Star City Corporation officers would be summoned to present financial documents given that the complex's fire safety inspection certificate expires October this year.
This means that if a third party caused the fire, the building is still covered by insurance.
"We will look into it kung sila ba ay nalulugi o hindi. Doon makikita 'yung motibo kasi mahirap i-pinpoint kung sino nagsunog," Pili said.
The management of Star City, however, disputed Pili's remarks, saying there is no reason for the owners to set the theme park on fire because business is good and the Christmas season would also mean more profit.
"We are not aware of any motive, including financial gain, that would induce the commission on arson specially on the part of Star City as the business is profitable and a bumper Christmas season was expected," it said in a statement.
It also defended the gasoline noticed by fire investigators, saying it is used to run a certain ride within the theme park.
The bringing in of cotton, on the other hand, is normal because cotton filling is used to stuff toys that serve as prizes in games.
"In fact, most if not all of the stuffed toys are filled with cotton. Almost all theme parks, including those outside of the Philippines, sell or give as prizes, stuffed toys in the ordinary course of their business," Star City said.
"We feel that it was inappropriate, to say the least, to release statements to media first regarding arson as the cause of fire when the investigation is not clearly concluded and before taking up such matter with Star City’s management, the principal party concerned," it added.
Star City had said that it might reopen in time for the Christmas season but it would need clearance from the Bureau of Fire Protection.