Maids flee from fire as elderly pair trapped

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am

Two Indonesian domestic helpers ran for their lives - leaving behind an elderly couple under their care in a burning flat in Tsuen Wan - when a heater used to dry clothes burst into flames yesterday.

Firemen rescued Wan Yuen-man, 84, and her husband, 91, surnamed Ng, who were trapped in a bedroom.

The couple, their two helpers and two female neighbours needed hospital treatment for smoke inhalation.

Ms Wan's condition later deteriorated and she was listed in critical condition in Yan Chai Hospital. Her husband was in stable condition.

The maids, aged 27 and 34, and the two neighbours, aged 44 and 48, were discharged after treatment.

More than 100 residents were evacuated from the 30-storey residential block in Luk Yeung Sun Chuen in Sai Lau Kok Road after the fire broke out in the couple's 14th-floor flat at 5.23am.

The two helpers had escaped from the blaze before a fleet of eight fire engines and six ambulances arrived at 5.27am, a spokesman for the Fire Services Department said. The elderly couple were rescued in a conscious state soon after the firemen arrived, he said.

Firemen doused the flames at 6.05am.

'Initial investigation showed that the heater burst into flames and lit some clothes that it was drying in the living room,' the spokesman said.

He said an investigation found nothing suspicious and that a short circuit was suspected to be the cause of the fire.

Separately, a 78-year-old man burned papers to get warm in his public housing flat in Cheung Sha Wan, triggering a false suicide alert, a police spokeswoman said.

Police officers, firemen and paramedics were called when a female neighbour, 51, detected a burning smell from his flat in Peony House at So Uk Estate at 3.52am.

She reportedly told officers that she feared the man might be burning charcoal to commit suicide, and then called police.

No one needed hospital treatment. It is understood that the elderly man lives alone.