Giving up the firefighting efforts at the Ngau Tau Kok industrial building and letting it burn down is not a responsible option, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok has said.
Lai’s response came after the fire that claimed the lives of two firefighters continues to burn after 72 hours, and as some questioned the Fire Services Department’s strategy of sending firefighters into the building.
Lai called for support for the firefighters, rather than criticism. He asked the public to believe in and respect the professionalism of the department.
“All firefighters have gone through professional training, they are equipped with professional knowledge and skills to evaluate what are the best strategies to combat the fire,” he told reporters at the Legislative Council.
Lai said that those on the ground would be the ones who knew the situation best.
The air quality around the fire scene was 40 to 80 times more harmful than the standard set by the World Health Organisation, according to the NGO Clean Air Network.
Lai said that there has been progress in the operation and the number of residents who sought medical attention due to smoke inhalation was not very high.
“According to the latest evaluation, there is not a need for evacuation, but these evaluations will continue… until the fire is put out,” he said.
Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai has urged the government to open holiday camps and provide transport so that residents could choose to stay there.
Kong Ping-lam, acting assistant director (Kowloon) of the Fire Services Department, said that as of 1pm on Friday that 43 fire trucks and ambulances, and around 185 firefighters had been deployed.
The fire at the Amoycan Industrial Centre started at 10:59am on Tuesday on the third floor, and spread to the fourth floor.
Kong said that fire in half of the area on the third floor has been put out, and the firefighters were using two turntable ladder monitors to lower the temperature. He added the operation on the fourth floor was up to expectations, as two turntable ladder monitors were deployed to lower the temperature.
Smoke, meanwhile, was still coming out of the fifth floor, but the temperature of the floor has decreased. Kong said the department has contacted the occupiers using the sixth and seventh floor and no dangerous articles were found.
Classes at three neighboring schools were terminated on Friday, including Jordan Valley St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Conservative Baptist Lui Ming Choi Primary School and Christian Little Tree Kindergarten.