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Ngau Tau Kok fire

A day of remembrance and tribute for Hong Kong firefighter killed in blaze

Thomas Cheung, 30, gave his life battling fourth-alarm fire at Amoycan Industrial Centre last week

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 June, 2016, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2016, 8:40am

The city’s firefighters assembled in their hundreds on Monday afternoon to pay their last respects to a colleague who lost his life while battling one of Hong Kong’s longest-burning building fires.

Standing in their uniforms in the sweltering heat outside the Amoycan Industrial Centre, they mourned senior station officer Thomas Cheung, 30, one of the two firefighters killed in the 108-hour inferno.

It was a sombre ceremony, many bowing their heads in grief and remembrance.

About 10 of Cheung’s family members were brought to the site by government vehicles just ­before 3pm. The ceremony began with a short speech from one of the fallen fireman’s colleagues.

“He was brave and fearless, a role model among us,” the fireman said before calling for a minute’s silence.

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Cheung’s widow led the crowd in laying flowers in front of a placard which read: “Forever remembering Senior Station Officer Thomas Cheung.”

She then entered the building, which became accessible after the fire was finally put out over the weekend, and was seen reaching the fifth floor. Her husband was found unconscious on the third floor last Tuesday night.

More than 200 officers from the Fire Services Department, including director David Lai Man-hin, took turns to bow before a long table covered with white linen placed outside the building.

Some became emotional and openly wept during the half-hour ceremony, which was limited to firefighters, selected family members and friends.

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More than 100 members of the public watched from a nearby footbridge or behind a cordon. The Post spoke to one of them, a woman from Hong Kong Island came to lay a bouquet she had brought along. Police officers collected her flowers and those from many others.

Standing out among the crowd of mostly middle-aged or elderly onlookers was a young man in a suit. He said he had taken time off from work to pay his respects to Cheung, as they had played basketball together on their school team. He described Cheung as a very kind friend who knew how to take care of others.

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“We didn’t meet often after graduation. I hadn’t met him for basketball recently, and there’s no more chance now,” he said, bursting into tears.

A member of the Fire and Ambulance Services Academy in Tseung Kwan O, Cheung was on the first breathing apparatus team to enter the fire scene last Tuesday. He was out of contact for 50 minutes before he was found.

A similar ritual at the scene will be held today for Samuel Hui Chi-kit, a senior fireman who became the second fatality two days after Cheung.