Fire that killed Hongkonger, 48, blamed on cigarette butt
Firefighters find housewife lying unconscious on floor and are investigating why she never managed to escape
A cigarette butt is suspected to have caused a fire that killed a 48-year-old housewife and led to about 150 residents being evacuated from a public housing block in Hong Kong early Thursday.
Emergency services were called to Leung Shui House in Tuen Mun in the northwest New Territories at about 2.10am when a fire broke out in a seventh-floor flat.
Seven fire engines and two ambulances were dispatched to the blaze and about 50 firefighters and paramedics deployed, according to the Fire Services Department.
“Firefighters broke into the burning flat and found an unconscious woman on the floor in the living room,” a police source said.
The woman – Wong Tsz-yuk – was taken to Tuen Mun Hospital, where she was declared dead.
A resident on the eighth floor said she was woken by the fire alarm.
“There was a strong burning smell when my husband opened the window. He shouted ‘fire’ and told neighbours to flee before we ran downstairs,” she said, adding that the seventh-floor flat was ablaze and flames could be seen from outside.
Firefighters took about half an hour to douse the flames before affected residents – many in their pyjamas and slippers – were allowed to return to their homes shortly after 3am.
“[Wong] was in bed smoking and watching television when her husband left home for work on Wednesday night,” another source said. “A cigarette butt was found in the lower deck of a bunk bed. We suspect it caused the fire.”
The source said the victim had no difficulty mobility problems and investigators were looking into why she was unable to escape.
The Post understood her husband, 56, was a night-shift security guard and at work at the time of the incident.
Fire services said there were no suspicious circumstances in the blaze.