The coroner on Monday criticised the Fire Services Department for failing to determine the cause of the fatal blaze in Fa Yuen Street after spending 15 months in investigation.
Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu described the Fire Services’ investigation as a waste of time for the court and the public.
Chan made the remarks in response to statements made by a senior Fire Services official during the coroner’s inquest into the nine deaths caused by the Fa Yuen Street fire in 2011.
Earlier on Monday, acting assistant fire services director Li Leung-ming told the inquest that the cause of the fire remained uncertain even after a 15-month probe by the department because another investigation, this one by the police, was still underway and had yet to determine whether any criminal elements were involved.
Li said the department’s own investigation had, however, ruled out various possible causes of the fire, such as spontaneous ignition, lighting by cigarette butts or highly inflammable objects.
In addition to the nine deaths, 34 people were injured in the blaze that ripped through 192 and 194 Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok early in the morning of November 30, 2011.
The blaze, which originated in hawkers’ stalls along the market street, was the deadliest fire since the 1997 handover.