Three people die in blaze in Hong Kong industrial building

The unit is believed to have been subdivided

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 August, 2017, 8:42pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 August, 2017, 11:57pm

Three people were killed on Saturday night in a fire at an industrial building in Kwai Chung.

The incident happened shortly after 6pm and firefighters were sent to the unit inside Mai Sik Industrial Building on Kwai Ting Road.

The unit is believed to have been subdivided, according to local media reports.

A fire engine equipped with a high-pressure water jet and a breathing apparatus team arrived at the scene, along with four ambulances. Fire ladders were used to ­access the 10th floor where the blaze started. It was extinguished in 30 minutes.

Two men and one woman were sent to Yan Chai and Princess Margaret hospitals. They were all certified dead on arrival.

The exterior of the building appeared to be intact, with little evidence of fire damage.

The cause of the fire is now under investigation.

The deadly incident was a tragic reminder of the lack of fire safety measures in industrial buildings in the city and how such buildings are often used for a range of functions – including cheap apartment housing, storage, or office space – with little regulation or monitoring.

The safety of industrial buildings came under intense scrutiny in June last year, after two firefighters died battling a fourth-alarm blaze at a mini-storage warehouse in Kowloon Bay. The site was made up of subdivided cubicles leased to individuals, adding to the difficulty of firefighting efforts, which lasted for 108 hours.

Two weeks later in July, an illegal subdivided unit at another old industrial building in Cheung Sha Wan also caught fire, injuring two siblings and killing a dog.

The incidents prompted a crackdown on businesses which fail to observe the relevant regulations, while the many residents living illegally inside industrial blocks – many of whom cannot afford a proper flat – also face eviction.