Firefighters tap water from source 1km away

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2012, 12:00am


Firefighters battling a blaze at a recycling plant in a Tseung Kwan O village yesterday had to lay hoses up to a kilometre in length in order to connect to the nearest water source.

The distance meant the Water Supplies Department had to increase water pressure in order for the 'third-alarm' blaze to be doused. Fires are rated on a scale of one to five according to their seriousness.

Several liquified petroleum gas cylinders exploded in the blaze, shrouding the village in thick smoke, the Fire Services Department said. Some 128 firefighters took 2 1/2 hours to put the flames out, but there were no casualties.

Tsang Wai-ming, acting Kowloon East divisional commander, said the department had had to increase manpower at the scene in order to lay and connect fire hoses.

'The fire scene is nearly one kilometre away from a water source on Po Lam Road,' Tsang said.

The blaze broke out at about 9.30am at the 13,000 sq ft mill - a single-storey, tin-sheeted structure that was being used to store waste paper and scrap metal - in Ma Yau Tong village, situated on a hillside near the Tseung Kwan O Tunnel exit.

Twenty-eight fire engines and ambulances were put into action as the alarm was upgraded to category three at 9.44am.

An elderly villager said workers tried to douse the flames, but they failed and had to flee.

One of the workers said: 'Three colleagues were fleeing the plant when I arrived for work.' She said they were unhurt.

Firefighters went round the village houses to ensure no one was trapped, and the blaze itself was extinguished shortly before noon.

Tsang said initial investigations had uncovered nothing suspicious.

The incident was the second third-alarm blaze in the city in eight days. On March 8, an underground drainage tube beneath the Lion Rock Tunnel caught fire.

The 60-metre-long ceiling of the tube was damaged, forcing the tunnel's Kowloon-bound dual- lane carriageway to close for four days.

Three of the lanes have since reopened to traffic while repairs continue on the fourth lane.