Police suspect fire at one of busiest stations on Hong Kong MTR to be arson
- The fire, which occurred near Exit E of Mong Kok station, died out before authorities arrived. No one was injured
- Investigations are under way
A fire that broke in one of the busiest railways stations in Hong Kong on Saturday was suspected of being arson, police have said.
The blaze broke out near ticket vending machines close to Exit E of Mong Kok station and was reported at 9.56am.
The fire was out by the time police arrived at the scene and no one was injured.
It was the first time the Railway Response Team, which came into operation in late December, was deployed to a major incident on the MTR.
An online video by a passer-by showed thick black smoke grazing the ceiling of the station while the fire was at its peak.
A witness told local media: “[Before the fire], there was some liquid on the floor and I thought someone had urinated, as I saw a man facing the wall.
“I ignored him and walked off, but about 10 seconds later I heard someone cry out, and I turned to see the fire.”
Another witness, who worked as a cleaner in the station, said the fire died down gradually before firefighters arrived.
A member of staff in a shop said people panicked and ran away, while others screamed.
A charred mark on the floor indicated where the fire had happened.
Firefighters used a device to inspect the spot, and deployed a sniffer dog to assist in investigations.
Police also looked through some rubbish bins in the station to see if there were any hints linked to the fire.
Part of the area was cordoned off during investigation and reopened at around 1.30pm.
The authorities said after initial investigation, the cause of the fire was believed to be suspicious.
The case was temporarily classified as arson and was being investigated by the Mong Kok district crime squad. No one had been arrested, as of Saturday afternoon.
An MTR spokesman said the station’s fire alarm was activated at about 9.50am. A cleaner nearby had spotted the fire and immediately notified staff in the station control room to call police.
The fire had died down when station staff arrived with extinguishers.
Train operations were not affected by the incident.
The spokesman said the rail operator was very concerned and would assist in police investigations.
Staff at the station would also stay vigilant.
In February 2017, a 60-year-old man set off a firebomb on a crowded MTR train which was pulling into Tsim Sha Tsui station, injuring at least 18 people. The attack sparked concerns about the safety of the city’s railway network.
Following the attack, the MTR Corporation banned the sale of lighters at convenience stores in its stations.