Nearly 100 firemen struggled for two hours to bring a warehouse fire under control, amid explosions and burning chemicals, in Tsuen Wan yesterday.
The fire broke out shortly after 6am at the Wang Lung Industrial Building in Lung Tak Street, where 15 containers of chemicals were being stored. Several of the containers exploded during the blaze, one fireman said.
'There was dense smoke and a fierce blaze when firemen arrived. At the same time, we received calls for help from residents,' New Territories South divisional officer Li Chun-kit, of the Fire Services Department, said.
He said more manpower was clearly needed so within minutes 17 fire engines and two ambulances were put into action.
Teams of firemen using breathing apparatus rescued three people trapped on the fourth and ninth floors of the 25-storey industrial building. The fire was on the second-floor podium.
The fire was declared extinguished soon after 8am. The 300 square metre storage area and a connected office were severely damaged, but no one was hurt. Firemen were investigating the cause of the blaze, although an initial investigation found nothing suspicious, a spokesman said. Li said: 'A large amount of chemicals were being stored at the scene. We have assigned our fire protection unit to investigate.' About 150 litres of chemicals were in storage.
Samples have been sent to a government laboratory to see if they are dangerous. The company was not licensed to store dangerous goods, the department said. The maximum penalty for illegal storage of hazardous materials is six months' jail and a HK$25,000 fine.
The chemicals were stored under an illegal structure - a metal canopy - built on the podium, a fire officer said. The illegal canopy was identified in 2007 and a removal notice was sent to the owner, but it did not pose an immediate danger to public safety, the Buildings Department said.
Now a new removal order would be issued, a spokeswoman said.