Survivors recount their horror ; Workers relive escape from blaze
Friday, November 22, 1996
escape from blaze
ORKERS at the Garley Building in Yau Ma Tei told yesterday of their
narrow escape from the inferno.
Maggie Chan, who ran a fashion wholesale company on the 12th floor of
the building, said she did not react immediately when she smelled
something burning before 5 pm Wednesday as she was told it was normal.
"This made me less alert to the risk of a fire," she said.
The staircase outside her office was full of smoke by the time she
realised the building was on fire.
She was rescued with five other colleagues by firemen on a crane after
being trapped in her office for about 45 minutes.
Frankie Lee Fung-king, general secretary of Hong Kong Federation of
Education Workers on the sixth floor, said she was lucky her office
had smoke detectors.
"It was a sensitive smoke detector. My colleagues would check if
anything happened every time the alarm went off," she said.
"It went off yesterday afternoon and we saw smoke coming out of the
lifts and we decided to leave at once."
She said more than 30 staff and visitors in her office were able to
leave the building by the stairs shortly before 5 pm.
She said she could not see any sprinklers or smoke detectors in the
corridors of the building.
The building was built in 1975 before the government introduced laws
requiring all commercial buildings to install sprinkler systems.
A Mr Lee, 40, owner of a fashion wholesale company on the 15th floor,
said his workers were delivering goods when the fire started.
"It was pure chance nobody was in the office at that time," he said.
Relatives waited for information on relatives.
A Mr Hui, who went to the police command centre yesterday, said he
could not find his sister, a clerk who worked at Chow Sang Sang
Jewellery on the 15th floor.
An elderly man also inquired about his daughter who worked in the same
office on the 15th floor.
Parts of roads surrounding the building were cordoned off as firemen
searched for bodies.
A Mr Lee, who lives next to the building, said he left his dog behind
in rush to escape. A Mr Cheung, who lives in the same building, blamed
police for preventing him returning home to feed his three pet birds.
Chief Fire Officer Henry Tang Siu said the main obstacle was that the
fire spread very quickly after it started.
He said firefighters also had to battle with piles of merchandise in
Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang visited the site yesterday