Firefighters in Hong Kong spent the day Friday battling a massive blaze that had started the night before at a construction site in a busy shopping district, resulting in the evacuation of 170 people from nearby buildings.
Even though the fire broke out at the Mariners’ Club redevelopment project in the highly populated Tsim Sha Tsui district at around 11 p.m. on Thursday, no deaths or serious injuries have been reported. Scaffolding and other floors of the building were ablaze, and flaming debris was floating through the air.
According to the company’s website, the Empire Group’s plan for the area included constructing a 42-story architectural landmark to house the historic Mariners’ Club as well as a new hotel.
By 8:30 a.m., the fire had been extinguished, but the cause was still under investigation, according to Keung Sai-ming, deputy chief of the fire department. It had been around nine hours since firefighters had begun fighting the fire.
Keung said that there was only temporary firefighting equipment available when firefighters arrived Thursday night and flames could be seen on multiple floors of the building.
Firefighting tools “typical of other buildings” are not yet available because “the building is still under construction,” he explained. To fight the fire, we needed a lot of people to carry water up to the upper floors. This presented a number of difficulties.
He also noted that the area’s construction materials (such as wooden boards and metal bars) made it difficult for fire crews to do their jobs.
There are hotels, apartments, and office buildings in close proximity to the site. Earlier in the evening, hundreds of curious citizens lined the streets to watch the 250 firefighters and paramedics at work.
It was windy last night. Our count shows that five buildings were threatened by the flaming debris,” Keung said. ‘Two of the buildings, a hotel and a business building, had balconies that caught fire. Lucky for us, the fires were quickly put out by our on-call police officers.
Several floors were still on fire as day broke, but it was not as bad as it had been earlier. There was blackening on the building’s exterior walls, and the scaffolding looked rickety in places.
According to police, residents of three nearby buildings were forced to leave their homes.
Authorities reported that one nearby building resident was startled and became ill, prompting a trip to the hospital. They also mentioned that a second local resident became ill nearby and required medical attention.
Tsim Sha Tsui is a popular tourist destination and commercial hub in Kowloon, known for its towering skyscrapers and picture-perfect vantage point over Victoria Harbor.