Fire VMC Philippines
The warehouse and clinic of the Victorias Milling Co., the Philippines' biggest sugar refiner, went up in flames on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023. Image Credit: AMITY VOLUNTEER FIRE BRIGADE

Manila: A fire hit the Philippines’ Victorias Milling Company (VMC), damaging the warehouse and the clinic in one of the country’s biggest sugar mills.

The fire hit VMC's storage facility located in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, in central Philippines, on Sunday evening, August 27. Local authorities reported that the flames erupted around 6:40 pm on Sunday and was successfully contained by 8:50 pm.

The clinic was completely gutted, while the warehouse sustained to 70 per cent damage, according to Victorias City Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez, who was present at the fire scene on Sunday.

In a statement, the local executive thanked the firefighting teams from non-government Chamber and Amity, as well as the local government units (LGUs) from neighbouring Cadiz, Manapla, Silay, EB Magalona, and Talisay. He also thanked Victorias City's local officials led by Mayor Javi Benitez for the swift response.

Cause unknown

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire. A damage assessment is still pending, local media reported. The incident occurred a few days before the commencement of the milling season on September 1.

The VMC warehouse fire
The VMC warehouse fire occurred just five days before the start of the milling season on September 1, 2023. Sugar Regulatory Administration chief Pablo Luis Azcona (center) visited the who visited the site on Monday, said he was saddened after seeing the video footage of the incident. Damage fromt he fire is still being assessed.. Image Credit: SRA Administrator’s Office | Via PNA

The fire's impact on the sugar industry was not immediately clear.

Pablo Luis "Paul" Azcona, the head of the Philippines’ Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), visited the VMC compound on Monday morning. Azcona said he is optimistic that fire will not hinder VMC's operations during the upcoming sugar milling season.

Azcona downplayed the fire's effect on the sugar supply, saying it is "minimal." "I don’t think it will hamper VMC’s efforts to start the crop year,” he said in a statement.

Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, expressed gratitude. In a Facebook post, the lawmaker stated, “We are currently evaluating the extent of the damage. Our thoughts and prayers are with VMC as they work towards a swift recovery from this incident."

VMC, founded in 2019, is one of the the country’s biggest producers of raw and refined sugar. It currently holds the biggest share of refined sugar production in the province of Negros, and in the rest of the country. The company's LinkedIn profile states that these amount to a 23.73 per cent in Negros and 12.63 per cent market share (in the Philippines), respectivel.

The diversified company is also involved in food manufacturing, leisure, property development, industrial gases, and green energy generation.