Baguio City’s historic Pines Theater gutted by massive blaze

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Pines Theater
The fire at Baguio’s Pine Theater today. It has now been brought under control and investigations into its cause are continuing. The Art Deco style cinema was built in the 1930s when Baguio was a popular destination for American servicemen, and other tourists, to escape the sweltering summertime heat in Manila.

A massive fire has gutted the historic Pines Theater in Baguio, prompting officials to cut off power and divert traffic.

Firefighters have not yet determined what caused the blaze at the former cinema at about 6.30pm today (Monday, November 5). However, it is thought that it began in the historic building’s basement.

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The former cinema, built in the 1930s, has since been renamed as the Pines Arcade and now hosts clothing stalls, gadget shops and a food court.

Witnesses have said that the fire could be clearly seen 500 metres away at Burnham Park. 

Firefighters brought the blaze under control in two hours and prevented it from spreading to nearby buildings, including a department store and a bank.

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Though no one was reported hurt, the fire hit the visitor turnout at a nearby night market after the whole of the Lower Session Road was cordoned off to traffic.

The Art Deco style Pines Theater survived the carpet bombing of Baguio when allied forces liberated the country at the end of World War Two. It also survived the magnitude 7.7 earthquake that hit central Luzon in 1990, flattening dozens of buildings across the city.

It was one of a number of movie houses built in the ‘Summer Capital of the Philippines’ to cater for the American servicemen and other tourists who would visit Baguio to escape the stifling heat of Manila. 

Fire authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire.

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