Fires of recent years
November 20, 1996
Considered the worst building fire in Hong Kong during peacetime, the blaze swept a 16-storey building in Nathan Road, Jordan, claiming 41 lives, including one fireman, and causing 81 injuries. The fire was caused by welding work inside the elevator shafts as the Garley Building was undergoing renovation. It started when a piece of hot metal fell from the thirteenth floor to the second floor. As the welding work had routinely triggered the fire alarms, nobody paid attention initially. The fire quickly spread through the bamboo scaffolding inside the elevator shafts.
Top One Karaoke Box, Prat Avenue
January 15, 1997
The fire was caused by an arson attack in a triad turf war, killing 17 and injuring 13. Members from the Sun Yee On triad threw three petrol bombs into the karaoke bar controlled by the rival Wo Shing Wo. The Fire Services Department later found the karaoke bar did not have adequate equipment installed to fight fire. This led to an overall review of fire safety in entertainment venues across the city. Three arsonists were arrested and sentenced to life for murder and another one was jailed for 11 years for manslaughter. The mastermind, Choi Kam-fai, escaped to the mainland and was captured there 12 years later. He was sent back to Hong Kong and given a life jail term last year.
August 2, 2000
A confrontation between a group of mainland abode seekers carrying inflammable liquid and lighters and immigration officers ended up in a blaze that claimed two lives - a senior officer and an abode seeker - and injured 50. Seven accused were jailed from 12 years to life. They appealed later and the terms were reduced to seven years and four months and to eight years. Security at the immigration centre was reviewed and strengthened as a result.
August 10, 2008
The fire swept the 15-storey commercial-residential building on Nathan Road in Mong Kok, killing four, including senior fireman Siu Wing-fong, 46, and fireman Chan Siu-lung, 25, and injuring 55. It was believed to have been started at a nightclub and karaoke bar on the first floor. An inquest found the firefighters were poorly equipped for the task, which was blamed for the death of the two firemen.
Ma Tau Wai
June 15, 2011
The fire engulfed an eight-storey tenement block in To Kwa Wan killing four, including a pregnant woman, with 19 injured and 70 people being left homeless. Illegally partitioned flats were blamed for blocking fire escapes, partly leading to the tragedy. It raised widespread concern over fire safety in buildings with partitioned flats.