Student dies after being trapped in flat fire

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2011, 12:00am


An off-duty policeman tried in vain to save a 19-year-old university student as she screamed for help when her flat was engulfed by flames yesterday.

Firemen later found her unconscious in a bedroom of the 500 sq ft apartment on the 17th floor of Koway Garden, Chai Wan, and she was certified dead in hospital.

Firemen suspect the blaze could have been caused by an overheated computer. Three other residents were slightly injured.

About 60 firemen battled the blaze, which damaged flats above, below and next door, for more than an hour before putting it out.

The policeman said he tried to free the woman, a first-year student at Shue Yan University, but was unable to open the door.

'I noticed a smell and went down to find out why,' said the man, who lives two floors above. As I came to flat 17A, I heard a woman screaming for help from inside. I knocked and asked if she could open the door but she did not answer. So I opened the metal gate but could not open the wooden door, not even after kicking it. So I decided to turn back to alert other residents and help evacuate them.'

Medics were unable to resuscitate her at the scene and she taken to Eastern Hospital, where she was certified dead at 8.57am.

The teenager lived in the flat with her parents, who were on a day trip to the mainland, and she was alone when the fire broke out at about 8am. Two woman residents in the building inhaled smoke and were admitted to the same hospital. A male resident also needed treatment.

About 60 residents were evacuated. Many said they had a lucky escape as they were still sleeping.

Firemen said they did not suspect foul play and said the fire might have been caused by an overheated computer placed on the bay window inside the flat. But the exact cause has not been determined. Sixty firemen battled the blaze, and nine fire engines, three ambulances, three water jets and four breathing apparatus teams were at the scene.