Published: 15:40, April 12, 2024
Probe: Burning garbage bags suspected of causing blaze that killed five
By Wu Kunling in Hong Kong
Firefighters arrive with rescue equipment at the junction of Jordan Road and Nathan Road in Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong on April 10, 2024. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

Plastic garbage bags and other clutter piled up in a lightwell may have ignited, for reasons as yet unknown, triggering the blaze at New Lucky House on Wednesday that resulted in five deaths and caused critical injuries to six, preliminary investigations have found.

Government sources said on Thursday that the fatal fire is believed to have started in a lightwell on the building’s first floor, where cleaning tools, plastic rubbish bags and other clutter were piled up.

It is unclear what ignited the objects, but investigators speculate that it may have been a cigarette butt dropped from above, the sources said.

The Fire Services Department said on Friday that the fire gates on a total of 11 floors in New Lucky House were damaged, and this may have contributed to the large number of casualties, as smoke had been able to enter a stairwell near the main entrance

The fire broke out at 7:53 am on Wednesday and was contained within two hours. Six of the 40 or so casualties were still in critical condition on Friday at noon.

The Fire Services Department said on Friday that the fire gates on a total of 11 floors in the building were damaged, and this may have contributed to the large number of casualties, as smoke had been able to enter a stairwell near the main entrance. Firefighters also noticed some unapproved alterations had been made to the building.

The Buildings Department earlier confirmed that the building’s owners had failed to respond to a fire safety notice issued by the department in 2008, instructing the owners’ corporation to upgrade the fire safety equipment in the building, including replacing the fire gates.

The 60-year-old New Lucky House is a mixed residential and commercial building which contains a number of commercial premises including more than 30 hotels.

The building remained sealed off as of Friday morning with no power and an unstable water supply.

Residents can register their information with police officers stationed in the building, who will accompany them to retrieve their personal belongings. Government officials are also on the scene to provide assistance.

amberwu@chinadailyhk.com