By Emmie V. Abadilla
“Hot work” – metal grinding and welding of a sub-contractor atop a steel beam, caused the recent fire in Pandacan, Manila which caused the collapse of a section of the Skyway Stage 3 under construction and total damages of around ₱1.2 billion, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) announced yesterday.
Based on the results of a Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) investigation, the fire started on coping beam 5 of the project, where workers of a sub contractor were conducting metal grinding and welding.
The results also dismissed initial findings that the fire originated outside the construction yard of SMC contractor D.M. Consunji, Inc.(DMCI). Fire investigators retrieved spent welding electrodes and a metal cutting disk, or grinding tool, used by construction workers at the fire scene, according to SMC.
The hot metal embers or welding slag came into contact with cartons and other combustible materials, starting the fire. Apart from the Skyway, the blaze also damaged the facilities and properties of the Manila Plastics Plant – SMC’s packaging business.
It was a “freak accident,” confirmed SMC president and Ramon S. Ang. “But we are glad nobody was hurt. We are also grateful to everyone who responded, especially the BFP, the volunteer firefighters, rescue teams from Manila and the Philippine National Police.”
“While this is an unfortunate setback, we have moved quickly to get back on track with the construction. We are working double time to deliver the entire Skyway stage 3 project in five months’ time, by July. This is just a three-month delay from the original target date of April 2020,” he added.
The tollway was originally slated to ope by April 1 this year.
Skyway Stage 3 was designed to eliminate choke points and provide motorists seamless connection between and north and south. It stretches from Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati and traverses through San Juan, Manila and Quezon City all the way to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). Upon completion, traveling to and from Buendia and Balintawak could only take 15 minutes.
For travelers to and from northern and southern Luzon provinces, the project is envisioned to serve as a safe, convenient and more comfortable central transport hub.