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Hong Kong rescue services

Elderly man fights for his life after fire breaks out in Hong Kong high-rise

Resident, who is in his 70s, tried to escape the blaze by climbing out onto a clothes rack but neighbours couldn’t reach him

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 6:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 11:07pm

An elderly man in Hong Kong was fighting for his life after fire engulfed his flat in a high-rise residential building on Saturday morning.

Thick smoke was seen billowing from a 21st-floor unit at Wah Fung Garden in Lai Chi Kok, at around 9am. The man, who is in his 70s, tried to escape the blaze by climbing out on to a clothes rack. Scores of residents in the building on Lai King Hill Road also fled to the ground floor.

Video footage taken by residents in nearby units showed the fire enveloping the flat, with an air conditioner plunging to the ground after the window frames buckled in the heat.

Neighbours on the same floor recalled the frightening experience.

A man, surnamed Fung, who lives opposite the flat, said he first heard a noise resembling glass smashing.

“He called for our help through the kitchen window … he even climbed out of the window to sit on the drying rack, but it was too far and we couldn’t help,” he said.

A couple, surnamed Wong, said they had tried to escape when smoke began entering their own home through door gaps.

“But the corridor was already filled with smoke, so we stayed inside the flat and waited for rescue instead,” Mr Wong said.

About 100 others in the building managed to evacuate to the ground floor by themselves, while another three had to be escorted to safety by firefighters.

Firefighters, who put out the blaze at about 10.30am, broke into the flat and rescued the man.

He suffered burns to his face and arms and was rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital, where he remained in a critical condition.

The Fire Services Department said it is believed the blaze started in the bedroom, before spreading to other parts of the about 600 square foot unit.

Authorities were investigating what led to the fire but no foul play was suspected.