Fire inspection on 60-year-old buildings as eighth victim dies

Local | 21 Nov 2020 1:54 pm

The Fire Services will check some 2,500 old buildings aged over 60 years after eight have perished in the fire that broke out at a Jordan tenement block last week. 

An 18-year-old woman was among the latest casualty in the blaze, which had been the city's deadliest fire since 2011. Her death was announced in the early hours of Saturday. 

Three people are still in critical condition in the hospital after the fire ignited a 69-year-old tenement building. 

Speaking after a radio program, Director of Fire Services Joseph Leung Wai-hung said the fire, which was believed to be caused by lit candles, was too close to the door of the unit, therefore blocking the exit for those trapped inside.

Almost half of the 20 people rescued at the scene had to escape through climbing windows, meaning firefighters were not able to use the front door at that time. 

A team of Fire Services Department and Buildings Department will begin checks on some 2,500 buildings dating back 60 years or above on Monday, Leung said. The examination is expected to complete by the end of this year. 

"We have set priorities. We and the Buildings Department will inspect composite buildings first: that is those buildings with commercial parts as well as domestic parts," Leung added. 

Owners of flats where escape routes are blocked or doors to the roof are blocked will be prosecuted. In less serve cases, they will be issued with a notice of improvement. 

Police are still investigating whether the unit at the center of the fire in Jordan had been used as a Nepalese restaurant without a license. The fire was thought to have started when a family gathered to celebrate a birthday and Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. 

Citizens continued to mourn for the casualties in the blaze to mark the seventh day since the fire, with some lighting up candles and laying flowers across the street from the fire scene. Religious communities will be holding ceremonies to commemorate the deaths. 

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