Cardiac arrest from infection

Investigators determine fire was accidental

The 55-year-old man who died after a kitchen explosion at his workplace went into cardiac arrest due to infection caused by extensive burns to his body, coupled with his history of diabetes.

According to Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Derek Gersonde yesterday, Ramoncito Apostol was pronounced dead Monday at 8:42am due to cardiac arrest.

Separately, based on the DFEMS scene investigation and findings, Gersonde said the cause of the fire was determined to be accidental in nature and that DFEMS considers the case closed.

Apostol reportedly sustained second and third degree burns to 70 percent of his body.

Saipan Tribune learned that the explosion happened Saturday morning at the Sea Fun Villa in San Vicente, where Dan Liu, a popular cosplay model in China, had drowned in its swimming pool in September 2017. The parents of Liu had sued the company that owns Sea Fun Villa.

Apostol was a former Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino executive sous chef. He worked at Sea Fun Villa as a maintenance supervisor and also lived there.

Gersonde said that DFEMS received a call from a male caller last Saturday at 7:45am, reporting about a possible structure fire at Sea Fun Villa in San Vicente. Saipan Tribune learned from court documents that Island Travel Investments LLC owns Sea Fun Villa.

Gersonde said that firetrucks from the Garapan and Kagman fire stations and a medic team from the Susupe Fire Station responded at 7:46am and arrived on scene at 8am.

At 8:30am, firefighters called in that the fire was under control. A fire investigator arrived on scene seven minutes later.

Gersonde said a medic team transported Apostol, who was then conscious, to the Commonwealth Health Center. Apostol reportedly sustained burns on his face, torso, and upper and lower extremities.

Initial investigations by DFEMS fire investigators revealed that a stove in the western side of the concrete kitchen had caught fire.

Gersonde said a woman who cleans the property was able to extinguish the fire before it could spread.

According to an interview by fire investigators, the woman stated that she was in her room when she heard the alarm of the vehicle that was parked next to the house go off.

When she went outside of her room on the west side of the kitchen, she saw smoke pouring out of the kitchen. She immediately ran to check on Apostol and found him trying to take off his shirt because it was on fire.

She then went inside the kitchen, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and put off the fire on the stove.

Gersonde said there were no structural damage or smoke damage.

That same day, fire investigators interviewed Apostol at the Commonwealth Health Center’s emergency room. He told the investigators that, earlier that day, when he went into the kitchen, he smelt the strong odor of liquefied petroleum gas. He then inspected the stove’s hose and the stove itself for leaks but found nothing.

However, when he turned on the stove by turning its knob, he said there was an explosion and fire from the stove.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com
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