Date
24 January 2017
After the Kowloon Bay blaze was finally extinguished  on Saturday night, firefighters are seen removing acetylene cylinders and other highly inflammable materials from the scene. Photos: RTHK
After the Kowloon Bay blaze was finally extinguished on Saturday night, firefighters are seen removing acetylene cylinders and other highly inflammable materials from the scene. Photos: RTHK

Task force begins probe after Kowloon Bay fire finally put out

A multi-agency government task force began its work on Sunday to investigate the deadly blaze in Kowloon Bay after firefighters finally put out the fourth-alarm fire that lasted 108 hours until about 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The fire broke out Tuesday morning at a mini storage facility operated by SC Storage on the third floor of Amoycan Industrial Center on Ngau Tau Kok Road, and claimed the lives of two firefighters.

On Sunday 16 fire trucks, two ambulances and about 100 firefighters and paramedics were seen at the site while four hoses continued to pour water into the third floor of the building.

The site remained cordoned off and it was not clear when the blockade will be lifted.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Tam Lung-cheung said firefighters were opening each of the units of the mini storage facility to eliminate all potential sources of fire.

Led by Chief Inspector Chung Chi-ming of the Kowloon East regional crime unit, the team of investigators entered the building soon after the fire was extinguished to conduct ocular inspection and gather evidence.

Meanwhile, firefighters recovered gas tanks and highly inflammable materials in the eight-story building.

Acetylene cylinders as well as large amounts of paint and refrigerants that could easily start a fire were found on the fourth floor.

A police source told HKEJ that police investigators had initially ruled out arson as the cause of the fire after it went through footages of security cameras and interviewed several witnesses, and focused on short circuit and faulty electrical wiring as possible causes.

The police probe could take two to three days, the source said.

The government task force, which began its investigation Sunday noon, includes experts from the Fire Services Department, Buildings Department, Government Laboratory, Police Force, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and several other agencies.

A spokesman for the Buildings Department said its inspectors checked several floors and their initial assessment was that the building was not in danger of collapse, although they still needed to make further tests to assess the extent of the damage.

But an engineer from the non-profit Professional Commons warned against underestimating the risk of collapse as the strength of the structure has been greatly weakened by the extremely high temperature resulting from the fire.

Meanwhile, SC Storage, which has promised to compensate affected clients, said in a Facebook post on Sunday that it will hire its own experts to ensure the building is safe before allowing customers to retrieve their belongings from the storage facility.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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