Hundreds of residents flee blaze at Tai Po estate

Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes during dinner when a blaze broke out at a private housing estate in Tai Po last night.

The fire started in a flat on the 19th floor of a residential block in Tai Po Centre at about 7.20pm.

Fifteen people escaped to the rooftop before being led to safety by firemen and police. Others fled to the ground floor - some barefoot - and watched the fire in horror.

At least three elderly people felt unwell due to heavy smoke. One man was later taken to Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital where he was being treated for smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire was still being investigated last night.

Meanwhile, 15 residents of a building in Western sought refuge on their rooftop and 30 had to be evacuated by firefighters after a jobless 46-year-old man killed himself by setting his flat alight.

Chan Kam-hong asked his live-in lover 53, to commit suicide with him in the 13th-floor flat in Lungga Mansion, Belcher's Street, before she ran out to seek help, leaving him alone with a cylinder of LPG. The flat burst into flames shortly afterwards.

In a third incident, police are treating a fire outside a flat in Sun Chui Estate, Sha Tin, as arson. The fire started at about 9.25pm but was put out by residents before emergency services arrived.

Firemen said the source of the blaze was a cloth soaked in an inflammable liquid.