The inferno at an industrial building that killed a young firefighter was still burning after more than 36 hours last night as the authorities scrambled to limit the fallout and address renewed concerns about lax safety standards. The tragedy revived fears about fire hazards in hundreds of other old buildings across Hong Kong, as it emerged that little had been done to improve the situation since a firefighter’s death six years ago prompted an official commitment to a safety overhaul. This was particularly worrying as a number of industrial buildings, like the one at the Amoycan Industrial Centre in Ngau Tau Kok, had been transformed into mini-storage facilities. Firefighters battling the blaze in Ngau Tau Kok since it started at 11am on Tuesday were still hard at work on Wednesday night as the fire spread from the third floor to the fourth. Pro-Beijing politicians draw heat for posing for photo at fatal Hong Kong fire scene The Fire Services Department said at about 12 midnight on Thursday that water was being fired into the fourth floor to prevent the area getting overheated, but it was not effective as the water could not cover all areas, which like the third floor were subdivided into storage cubicles and the heat from the lower floor was too strong. It said a dust explosion on the fourth floor involving milk powder stored by a tenant from a dispensary was not likely because the powder was inside containers. It said it would stick to its defensive strategy, which involved firing water as a coolant, and an offensive strategy would only be considered when the site was confirmed safe to send personnel in. The firemen were also using water to cool the fifth floor, which is also a storage facility. The fire is now the longest since the city’s 1997 handover. The previous longest was in December 1995, when it took firefighters 40 hours to put out a blaze in an industrial building in Kwai Chung. Battling exhaustion, Hong Kong firefighters continue to combat deadly blaze at Ngau Tau Kok industrial building Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok announced a citywide inspection of all mini-storage facilities, as the fire began at the SC Storage facility occupying several floors of the building. Lai’s bureau will lead a cross-departmental team to study how fire safety standards can be strengthened. The minister did not rule out the possibility of amending relevant laws. “The building where the fire broke out this time was constructed decades ago. It was up to fire safety standards when it was constructed at the time,” Lai said. “But the law does not require these old industrial buildings to meet [safety standards] that new buildings need to meet today.” Industrial buildings completed before 1973 are not required to be fitted with automatic sprinkler systems. In the Ngau Tau Kok case, the eight-storey building did not have sprinklers installed because it was completed in 1961. In 2010, when fireman Yeung Chun-kit was killed in a Cheung Sha Wan industrial building blaze, the Fire Services Department promised to review the fire-safety rules for such blocks erected before 1973. While inspections on industrial buildings have been stepped up, according to the government, the laws have not been amended to require the installation of sprinklers. A major obstacle for firefighters in Ngau Tau Kok yesterday was the layout of 200 mini-cubicles inside the facility, each of them separated by metal sheets, and storing unknown goods. Ngau Tau Kok residents and retailers shower praise on firefighters battling Hong Kong blaze Former fire services chief Lam Chun-man, who is now an adviser to the Institution of Engineers, said another problem with mini-storage facilities in Hong Kong was that no one knew what was stored inside each cubicle except the customers themselves. There was an outpouring of sympathy for senior station officer Thomas Cheung, 30, who died on Tuesday night while battling the blaze. He is survived by his wife Lydia Chan Mei-wa and their four-month-old son. University of Hong Kong fire safety expert Professor Cheung Kwok-pun said there was a need for the departments concerned to come up with stricter fire safety regulations for mini-storage warehouses. Cheung said sprinklers would have made a huge difference by tackling the fire in its early stages before it went out of control. “They cannot continue to follow fire safety standards from 1961 [when the building was completed] as mini-storages didn’t exist back then,” Cheung said. Institute of Architects member Ivan Ho Man-yiu suggested other regulations, including vetting of materials used as cubicle dividers and the design of passageways. In 2010, the government identified 481 industrial buildings completed before 1973, but yesterday the Buildings Department did not have an updated figure.