Senior officials attend vigil for fireman killed in factory fire

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 March, 2010, 12:00am

Senior fireman Yeung Chun-kit, who died early this month fighting a factory fire in Cheung Sha Wan, will be laid to rest today at Gallant Garden, the burial ground for government servants killed in the line of duty.

Senior government officials paid tribute to Yeung, a 26-year veteran of the force, at a vigil yesterday.

Yeung, 47, was trapped by falling debris while fighting the fire in the Lai Cheong Factory Building on March 8. He died later in hospital.

A Buddhist-style ceremony was held in the Universal Funeral Parlour in Hung Hom. Dozens of wreaths were placed on the street outside.

One heart-shaped wreath of yellow roses was placed in the centre of the hall with a message that said: 'We will miss your forever.' The hall was decorated with white flower wreaths.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-keun, Director of Fire Services Gregory Lo Chun-hung, and other senior government officers and lawmakers joined the vigil last night.

Tsang arrived at about 6.30pm. He bowed before Yeung's picture, shook hands with the fireman's family and conveyed his condolences. He stayed for about 15 minutes.

The Fire Services Department will hold a funeral with full honours at the parlour today.

Yeung's body will be carried by hearse to the scene of the fire for a roadside ritual at about 10.15am before it moves to Lai Chi Kok Fire Station, where Yeung worked, for colleagues to pay their final tributes.

The hearse will head for Gallant Garden at about 11am for the burial.

Yeung - who signed up as a fireman in 1984 and was promoted to senior fireman in 2005 - is survived by a wife and 20-year-old daughter.

The veteran fireman was out of contact with his colleagues for 85 minutes at the height of the fire. It took firemen who found him a further 45 minutes to remove him from rubble under which he was trapped.

The Fire Services Department said human error in using the five-year-old communication system led to an 18-minute delay in upgrading the blaze.

An investigation is under way over whether the delay was to blame for Yeung's death.

The department said a message sent by a frontline commander from a mobile data terminal on a fire engine requesting that the blaze be upgraded to a No 3 fire was mistakenly deleted at the control centre.

Meanwhile, the Fire Services Department began checking fire safety precautions at 2,000 industrial buildings yesterday in the hope of preventing another similar blaze. The checks are expected to take two months to complete.