Fire engulfs derelict building in Garapan


Heavy smoke engulfs the area after a fire broke out at an abandoned building between the former Saipan Younis Lounge and Sunnyside Café in Garapan last Friday. Photo shows the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services responding to the incident. (Kimberly B. Esmores)

The Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services continues to investigate the cause of a fire that engulfed an abandoned structure in Garapan last Friday.

According to a news release from the department, multiple individuals called 911 reporting heavy smoke in Garapan last Friday, Jan. 22, at approximately 4:52pm. It was later determined that the fire had broken out at an abandoned building located between the former Saipan Younis Lounge and Sunnyside Café in Garapan.

The abandoned structure had been serving as a home to a handful of homeless individuals in the area.

Fortunately, there were no fatalities from the fire as Saipan Tribune learned from one of the individuals living there that everyone had yet to return to the building when the fire started. They only rushed back when they started to see black smoke coming from the area.

According to Francisco O. Iginoef, DFEMS Division of Fire Prevention and Arson Investigation’s lead Firefighter, DFEMS has yet to determine what caused the fire in the first place.

“The fire is still under investigation and more information will be given out accordingly,” he said.

Iginoef said he arrived on scene at around 6:05pm last Saturday. His initial observation was that the structure sustained moderate to severe heat damage.

“After being briefed by Engine-02 Engineer John R. Camacho, I could observe an abandoned structure with moderate to severe heat and smoke damage,” he said.

Iginoef learned that the fire began at the northeastern side of the building and spread from there. “Through witness and scene investigation, the fire started at the eastern side and spread outward. Further scene investigation revealed that the area of origin is located at the northeastern side of the structure,” he said.

According to DFEMS spokesperson Robert Mojica, the first units to arrive on scene last Friday were Medic-2, Engine-2, Engine-4, and Rescue-1, who all arrived at around 4:52pm. The responding units confirmed that the building was fully engulfed in flames, and that there could be a possible roof collapsed on the right side of the building.

At around 6:03pm, Lt. John Mettao announced that the fire was under control.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at
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