MANY will never forget the scene - just hours before Christmas 1990 - as flames roared through an old Shamshuipo cage home, killing seven, injuring more than 50 and making hundreds homeless. Onlookers were shocked to see panic-stricken elderly residents trapped in premises crammed with cages and illegal structures, locked metal gates and rubbish piled high in stairwells. The fire - sparked by an electrical fault - was so intense that when firefighters pushed up a hydraulic platform to rescue victims, more than a dozen jumped aboard or clung to its railings. The overcrowded cage bent the hydraulic arm so badly that it crashed down on firemen and ambulance workers, injuring many. The incident drew attention to sub-standard living conditions for single elderly and middle-aged people. Strict control of bedspace apartments was urged. Fire safety laws will take effect next week, although the Government is not expected to prosecute those who breach them. Developments since the 1990 blaze include: August 4, 1993: An 80-year-old woman falling to her death from a water pipe trying to flee a fire on the top floor of a Shamshuipo factory building later found to have been turned into a dingy apartment with more than 50 cages. April 27, 1994: The Bedspace Apartment Ordinance being passed by the Legislative Council after more than three years' discussion, requiring all cage-home operators to register with the Government by November for future licensing. November 1994: The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights condemning Hong Kong for allowing the existence of sub-human accommodation and urging it to take immediate steps to eradicate the phenomenon. February 1995: The Sunday Morning Post revealing that the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals was running three dingy cage homes in Tai Kok Tsui, and had done so for 30 years. Public criticism drove the charity to hand the premises over to the Government. The homes are being renovated into hostels. March 24, 1995: Three people dying and three being injured in an arson attack on a cage home in Tsuen Wan's Yeung Uk Road. Police believe the suspect set the cubicles alight after finding he was unable to pay the rent. He was found among the dead. November 1996: A grace period for cage-home operators to upgrade their fire facilities expiring, but the Government decides to delay the deadline until July 1 this year after operators voiced dissatisfaction.