HONG KONG, March 3 (AP) — Hong Kong firefighters battled a blaze Friday that erupted overnight at a construction site in a popular shopping district, forcing the evacuation of 170 people in nearby buildings.
The fire broke out at the Seamen’s Club redevelopment project in the densely populated Tsim Sha Tsui district at about 11 p.m. on Thursday. No injuries have been reported.
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Multiple floors of the building – including scaffolding – caught fire, with burning debris floating in the air.
Imperial’s redevelopment plan is to create a 42-story architectural landmark to house the historic Mariners Club and a new hotel, the company’s website says.
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Jiang Saiming, deputy director of the fire department, said that as of 8:30 a.m., the fire had been basically extinguished and authorities were still investigating the cause of the fire. Firefighters battled the blaze for about nine hours.
When firefighters arrived on the scene Thursday night, they found multiple floors of the building ablaze, Jiang said, but only makeshift firefighting equipment was available.
“The building is still under construction, and the firefighting equipment that is common in other buildings is not ready to use,” he said. “We need a lot of people to supply water to the very high floors to fight the fire, so we have a lot of challenges.”
Construction materials there, including wooden planks and metal rods, also made it difficult for firefighters to move around, he added.
The plot is surrounded by a shopping mall, several hotels, and some residential and commercial buildings. Crowds of onlookers had gathered in the street earlier in the evening to watch the action involving 250 firefighters and paramedics.
“It was very windy last night. The burning debris was blown by us to five buildings,” Keung said. “Two of the buildings, a hotel and a commercial building, had partial balconies on fire. Fortunately, our officers on standby were able to quickly extinguish them.”
When dawn broke, the fire was not as severe as it had been a few hours earlier, but flames could still be seen on multiple floors. The building’s exterior was blackened and parts of the scaffolding looked crumbling.
People living in three buildings close to the scene had to be evacuated, police said.
A person who lived in a nearby building became frightened and sick and was taken to hospital, authorities said. Another resident near the scene also felt unwell and went to hospital, they added.
Tsim Sha Tsui is a tourist and shopping district in Kowloon known for its skyscrapers and iconic views of Victoria Harbour. (Associated Press)
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