Burnt out

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment pro­vides hous­ing, food, wa­ter to 680 dis­placed fam­i­lies

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou zheng­caix­iong@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Fire crews take 11 hours to ex­tin­guish a fire at a 25-story build­ing in down­town Guangzhou.

Fire­fight­ers re­mained busy on Mon­day evening spray­ing wa­ter to cool an un­com­pleted build­ing — Jianye Man­sion — that had burned for about 12 hours in the Guang­dong pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal of Guangzhou.

White smoke and steam was still ris­ing from the scene late in the day, while most of the glass on the outer walls had peeled off and was gone.

The fire was mostly out by about 6:30 am on Mon­day, but hot spots re­mained. Fur­ther mea­sures need to be taken to pre­vent the fire from break­ing out again, a fire­fighter said at the scene.

Duan De­hai, deputy head of Guangzhou’s Yuexiu dis­trict, said the fire broke out at about 6:50 pm on Sun­day, and evac­u­a­tion of the neigh­bor­hood be­gan at about 8 pm.

“A to­tal of 1,367 res­i­dents from 608 fam­i­lies liv­ing within a ra­dius of 150 me­ters of Jianye Man­sion have, so far, been evacuated to 39 nearby ho­tels and inns,” Duan said at a news con­fer­ence on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

A fire vic­tim said he was evacuated to Guangzhou Ho­tel af­ter be­ing asked to leave his home on Sun­day night by mem­bers of the lo­cal neigh­bor­hood com­mit­tee.

“The evac­u­a­tion is timely, but the ar­range­ment is a bit con­fus­ing, and I re­ally don’t know when I can re­turn home,” he said.

The Yuexiu dis­trict gov­ern­ment con­trib­uted more than 3 mil­lion yuan ($494,000) to help the evac­uees set­tle down and en­sure that they have food and drink­ing wa­ter, he said.

“We have sent neigh­bor­hood com­mit­tee of­fi­cials and per­son­nel to ev­ery ho­tel that has fire vic­tims to help them through their dif­fi­cul­ties and calm them down,” he added.

Duan urged the evac­uees not to re­turn home be­fore the area is proved to be safe and au­thor­i­ties have given a green light.

Three pri­mary schools were closed be­cause of the blaze.

Duan said all the schools af­fected by the dis­as­ter will re­sume classes on Tues­day.

No deaths or in­jures have been re­ported so far.

De­vel­op­ers stopped work on the 25-story struc­ture — orig­i­nally de­signed as a com­mer­cial build­ing — af­ter the Asian fi­nan­cial cri­sis in 1998. In 2000, they leased the un­com­pleted build­ing to lo­cal shoe traders for use as a ware­house.

The fire’s cause was still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and the busy Qiyi Road and nearby streets in Guangzhou’s Yuexiu dis­trict con­tin­ued to be cor­doned off.

“When Qiyi Road will re­sume nor­mal traf­fic op­er­a­tions is still un­known,” a po­lice of­fi­cer said. He es­ti­mated that the road will re­main closed un­til at least late Mon­day.

Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from the Guang­dong pro­vin­cial fire depart­ment, 58 fire en­gines and more than 380 fire­fight­ers were sent to the scene to help ex­tin­guish the blaze.

A Jianye Man­sion prop­erty owner said the fire first broke out on the build­ing’s third floor and spread rapidly. Within about 10 min­utes, it had spread to the 21st floor, the prop­erty owner said.

“The man­sion was stor­ing many shoes, sponges and other flam­ma­bles,” said the prop­erty owner, who did not want to be named.

The build­ing lacked suf­fi­cient fire-pro­tec­tion fa­cil­i­ties, the prop­erty owner said.

YANG HUI / FOR CHINA DAILY

About 380 fire­fight­ers and 58 en­gines were sent to put out a fire at a 25-story build­ing in Guangzhou, Guang­dong prov­ince, which had been turned into a ware­house for shoes and other flammable items.

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