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PGH Fire Cause Still Unknown, Newborn Babies and Patients Evacuated

PGH Fire Cause Still Unknown, Newborn Babies and Patients Evacuated

On Sunday morning, May 16, a fire broke out in an operating room of the 3rd floor of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Because of this, hospital staff had to evacuate patients in the surrounding areas, including 35 newborn babies, including a newborn who recently underwent heart surgery1.

PGH fire cause still unknown

In a Facebook post, Dr. Gerardo Legaspi, PGH Director, shared that the fire started in the ceiling of the OR Supply and Autoclave Room (ORSA)2. This area contained flammable linen as well as diapers which could have contributed to how quickly the fire spread. One witness reportedly tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher, but once they saw it spreading, they decided to evacuate the area.

Dr. Legaspi added that the fire “was contained within the area but thick smoke soon engulfed the adjoining floors and diffused into the pavilions.” Because of this, patients had to be evacuated, including those with COVID-19. The hospital staff made sure to house the COVID-19 patients separately in order to avoid spreading the virus.

The fire reached the first alarm at around 12:41 A.M., and the second alarm was raised at around 12:58 A.M. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) sent out a total of 14 firetrucks to quell the blaze. It was declared under control at around 2:46 A.M. and a ‘fire out’ was declared at 5:41 A.M.

The BFP added that there were no casualties or injuries during the incident.

Despite the PGH fire, the rooms that were affected are mostly intact. They also plan to reopen this week, as soon as the equipment has been checked, and the rooms are safe to use.

Staff had to evacuate newborn babies

One nurse, who helped evacuate some of the newborn babies, shared her experience on Facebook.

Kathrina Bianca Macababbad, said that she was happily bathing the babies she was caring for in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) when someone informed her that they were going to have to evacuate because of a fire3.

Macababad shared that 5 of her 6 patients were on ventilators. Because of this, she thought that she would have to leave those babies behind. But shortly after evacuating one newborn, she and another nurse went back to save the other babies.

According to her, they evacuated a total of 35 newborns, including one who recently underwent heart surgery. She even managed to get some emergency supplies that the babies might need. All of the babies are now safe and have been relocated to other hospitals.

She added that they also made sure that the babies’ tags were intact, in order to avoid baby switching.

Her post has now been shared over 132,000 times and received about 397,000 reactions at the time of writing. A number of netizens have praised their efforts in evacuating the newborns and making sure that they are safe and sound.

How you can help

Those interested in helping persons affected by the PGH fire can do so through the following channels:

For breastmilk donations

The UP-PGH Milk Bank Center is accepting donations for breastmilk that will be given to premature and sick babies.

Those interested may drop off their donations at PGH Ortoll Primary Reproductive Health Care Center, which is open until 5 P.M. daily. Kindly contact 0956-5928892 for more information.

If delivered through courier, kindly contact 0920-6655490.

For non-food donations

PGH Nurse’s Home, Taft Avenue

Contact Ms. Adette Idjao, Head, Property and Supplies Division, (0917-7723947)

For food donations

Contact Ms. Emelita Lavilla, Dietary Head (0922-8318994) for coordination.

Cash donations

Cashier, 1st floor, Main Hospital

Contact Ms. Rose Acabado (02-8554-0440 local 2016)

Official receipts may be given.

Online cash donations

Development Bank of the Philippines

Account name: UPM-PGH Trust Liability Fund

Account number: 00-0-05028-410-8

Swift code of DBP: DBPHPHMM

Email a copy of the deposit slip to: [email protected]

Bank of the Philippine Islands

Ermita branch

Account name: PGH Medical Foundation Inc.

Account number: 3281-0277-93

Banco de Oro

Pedro Gil branch

Account name: PGH Medical Foundation Inc.

Account number: 002410071569

Send a copy of the deposit slip to: [email protected], or 0922-831-7470 (Viber)


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  1. Baby who just had heart operation among those safely evacuated from PGH fire, https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/metro/787743/baby-who-just-had-heart-operation-among-those-safely-evacuated-from-pgh-fire/story/, Accessed May 17, 2021
  2. Infants bundled off; no one hurt in PGH fire | Inquirer News, https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1432584/infants-bundled-off-no-one-hurt-in-pgh-fire, Accessed May 17, 2021
  3. Evacuation Of Babies As Fire Hits PGH Wows Netizens; Donations For The Hospital Sought | OneNews.PH, https://www.onenews.ph/332k-reactions-116k-shares-evacuation-of-babies-as-fire-hits-pgh-wows-netizens-donations-for-the-hospital-sought, Accessed May 17, 2021
  4. Fire breaks out at Philippine General Hospital, https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2021/5/16/PGH-fire.html, Accessed May 17, 2021
  5. PGH eyes reopening this week after Sunday fire incident, https://www.cnn.ph/news/2021/5/17/PGH-eyes-reopening-this-week.html, Accessed May 17, 2021
  6. With fire out, PGH moves newborns, pedia patients to other hospitals, https://www.rappler.com/nation/philippine-general-hospital-fire-out-newborn-pedia-patients, Accessed May 17, 2021
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated May 17
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel