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Friday, July 8, 2016, 18:56

Renewed concerns as godown blaze injures 3


HONG KONG - Three people, including a fireman, were injured in a fire at an industrial building in Cheung Sha Wan. The blaze was finally put out Friday morning after a nine-hour firefight.

The three-alarm fire came just three weeks after the deadly blaze at a mini-storage facility in an industrial building in Ngau Tau Kok which cost two firefighters' lives.

The three injured were sent to the Caritas Medical Centre in Sham Shui Po and are in stable condition.

According to a spokesperson from the Fire Services Department, mini-storage facilities and units with goods of varied materials stored inside were found on the eighth floor of Cheong Fat Factory Building, where the fire originated.

Meanwhile, the third, fourth and fifth levels also housed mini-storage facilities.

Built before 1973, the building had no sprinkler system installed which increased the difficulty in putting out the blaze, according to the spokesperson.

Officials from the Buildings Department have started an investigation at the scene to scrutinize the structure of the building.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the authorities.

Tsang Wing-hung, deputy chief fire officer of the Fire Safety Command, said an interdepartmental inspection of all mini-storage sites across the city is expected to be completed in two months.

"Violations of fire safety regulations were spotted in the inspection during the past a few weeks, including two mini-storage facilities in Cheong Fat Factory Building,” he said.

He said the authorities will order mini-storage operators to eliminate potential fire hazards as soon as possible.

The fire has raised public concern over alteration and subdivision of industrial buildings for flats. Several illegal subdivided units for possible residential use were found, according to acting Kowloon deputy chief fire officer Tsang Wai-ming.

Two of the injured, teenage siblings, were found near the subdivided flats; however, it is not confirmed if they actually live there, Tsang said.

Living in subdivided flats in industrial buildings is illegal in Hong Kong, mainly because of the high fire risks. The SAR government has been taking enforcement action to eradicate illegal domestic use in industrial buildings to ensure the safety of the public and of tenants.

Industrial buildings are not designed for domestic purposes and relevant action will be followed up by the authorities if it is confirmed people are living inside the subdivided units, Tsang warned.

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