The blaze at a Kowloon Bay industrial building has claimed the life of one more firefighter, taking the casualty figure to two, as authorities struggle to control the flames that first erupted three days ago.
Senior fireman Hui Chi-kit, 37, was found unconscious by colleagues at about 7:30 pm Thursday on the third floor of the Amoycan Industrial Center, where a fire broke out on Tuesday.
He was part of the team that has been battling to put out the blaze at the industrial building located along Ngau Tau Kok Road.
Affected by smoke inhalation, Hui fell unconscious and was rushed to the United Christian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:10 pm, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Two other firemen who were also sent there were said to be in a critical condition.
Hui was the second fireman to be killed by the Kowloon Bay building accident. On Tuesday, a senior fire station officer surnamed Cheung died from smoke inhalation.
Following the news, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying expressed his condolences to Hui’s family.
Meanwhile, residents living in the neighborhood have begun to fear that the industrial building could collapse as its structures may have been damaged due to three days of intense heat amid the fire.
Hui Siu-wai, Director of Buildings, said the building structures were still intact but admitted that they need to be monitored further.
A fireman, meanwhile, said in a social media post that prolonged pouring of water at high pressure may end up causing more stress to the damaged structures.
Cracks on the outer walls of the building led to panic among residents in nearby private estates.
Some residents in estates such as Tak Bo Garden and Jade Field Garden have shifted to other lodgings temporarily.
A senior structural engineer named James Lau Chi-wang was quoted as saying that one cannot rule out that the Amoycan Industrial Center building will collapse if the fire continues to rage at the facility.
Hang Lung Properties (00101.HK), the owner of the building, said in a statement Thursday that it has commissioned professionals to conduct risk assessment on the building.
The company is prepared to work closely with the government with regard to structural safety checks, it said.
Asked by reporters if any official should step down to take responsibility in the wake of the death of the two firefighters, Director of Fire Services Lai Man-hin said department would never ask staff to risk their lives knowingly.
He said the most difficult job for firemen at the moment is to find ways to open the hundreds of iron-clad mini storage units at the industrial building to make sure that all possible sources of fire are put out.
The fire began on premises rented by SC Storage, a provider of low-cost self storage facilities, before spreading to other floors.
As firemen went into the building to douse the blaze, they found the situation getting tougher as the fire continued to spread from the third floor to upper ones and led to deformed structures.
[Chinese version 中文版]
Govt vows to step up fire safety as Kowloon Bay blaze continues (June 23, 2016)
Deadly Kowloon Bay fire exposes industrial building risks (June 22, 2016)
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