Police descended on a public housing block in the border town of Fanling on Sunday as roads were blockaded and fires set by people furious over a government proposal to use the development as a potential quarantine site amid the widening coronavirus epidemic . Protesters in the New Territories town began blocking Wah Ming Road, close to the newly constructed Fai Ming Estate, on Sunday afternoon after a speech the night before in which Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor suggested the estate could potentially be used as a quarantine site or a dormitory for medical staff fighting the epidemic. While the government swiftly clarified on Sunday there was no firm plan to use the facility and that the Department of Health was renovating it only to serve as a reserve option, tensions were already boiling over. By evening, about 200 residents and masked protesters were on the streets, shouting angrily as they went about putting bricks in the road. At about 8pm, men tossing petrol bombs set fire to ground floor areas of the new estate’s Sing Fai House and Tai Fai House. Firefighters rushed in to douse the flames, leaving the empty premises charred. Riot police had moved in on the estate a couple of times during the day in an attempt to clear the roads, and by nightfall, were back to confront demonstrators. People could be seen throwing what appeared to be tiles or bottles from behind a makeshift barricade, while dragging plastic bollards into the road to block traffic. At about 9pm, police hoisted a blue flag, warning they could take action against people on the scene. A short time afterwards, officers could be seen detaining an unspecified number of people, including some journalists. In a statement released Sunday night, the Hong Kong Police Force said the rioters were to blame for the clashes. “In the evening, rioters damaged the traffic lights at the junction of Fai Ming Road and Wah Ming Road, and set fire to the lobby of buildings by throwing petrol bombs. These destructive acts have posed a grave threat to the safety of people at [the] scene,” it said. “Police warn all rioters to stop these unlawful acts. Police will take resolute enforcement actions.” In an attempt to cool the situation earlier in the day, North District Council chairman Jasper Law Ting-tak sought to reason with angry residents, saying a district official would be present at a council meeting next week to explain the government’s intention. Law, who urged people to be calm and not to ruin the Lunar New Year holiday, added that the government would halt any further work on the estate until the next council meeting. In a statement Sunday evening, the government confirmed that relevant departments would attend the meeting, saying it “acknowledges and understands that there is concern among some residents in the North District of the requisition of Fai Ming Estate.” Sam Ma, 30, who works in the professional services industry, said the crowds on the street spoke to the level of that concern. “Residents of all ages think it’s not a good idea to send potential patients, and with so many uncertainties about the disease, they have to consider the residents first,” he said. Teacher Jason Ng, 29, who also lives on the estate, said: “This is not the area to house suspicious patients. It’s too residential and there are nearby schools.” Man Lau, 30, who works in the education sector, said: “I understand why residents worry, because the government might quarantine patients nearby. “The most important thing is the people don’t trust what the government does or says from June until now,” he added, referencing the social unrest that has roiled the city since June. Riot police were also deployed in Mong Kok on Sunday evening, as tensions boiled over for a second night in a row as police confronted protesters they said had assaulted passers-by while blocking roads. On Saturday, tear gas was fired for the first time in 2020, as people gathered to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2016 Mong Kok riots.