The main showroom of wheel-and-tire specialist Wheel Gallery was destroyed by fire today. The shop, which sells the popular Concept One brand of alloy wheels, is located at 318 Santolan Road in Greenhills, San Juan. According to Manila Standard motoring writer Dino Directo--who rushed to the scene together with Top Gear Philippines columnist Aris Ilagan--the fire started at about 1:30pm and was put out at around 3:30pm.
Newspaper columnist Cito Beltran, who also went to the venue, told TopGear.com.ph that the explosion of an acetylene tank caused the conflagration.
Aside from Concept One, Wheel Gallery also distributes other wheel brands like Black Rhino, BBS, Carlsson, Kelleners Sport and TSW, as well as the tire brands Nitto and Saffiro. The destroyed property also housed the offices of the Philippine distributor of Bilstein shock absorbers and H&R coil springs.
Directo added that squatters living nearby managed to break into the burning building and steal a number of valuable items, including the laptop computer of a Wheel Gallery officer.
At this time, our thoughts and prayers go out to our dear friend Sam Liuson, managing partner at Wheel Gallery. We're sure a man of his faith will bounce back from this tragedy in no time at all.
UPDATE: Our apologies to the squatters around the Concept One showroom. Apparently, there was no looting that occurred. Sam Liuson has just sent us the following message: "No squatters were able to steal anything from us (not many squatters were near in the first place). We were guarded very well by the San Juan police. I think the story came about when one of my staff members was looking for a computer, which he only later realized to have already been placed in the car. Dino Directo (the story's source) wasn't there anymore when the staff member came to this realization."
Photos by Aris Ilagan and Paulo Eleazar