The ongoing blaze at a Ngau Tau Kok storage unit building has claimed the life of a second firefighter.
Senior firefighter Hui Chi-kit, 37, was taken to United Christian Hospital at around 7:30pm on Thursday evening after losing consciousness at the scene. He was pronounced dead at 9:10pm, and is survived by his wife and a 7-year-old son.
Two other firefighters were taken to hospital on the same evening in a fire that has been raging for almost 60 hours since Tuesday morning. It has claimed the lives of two firefighters, while 11 others have been hospitalised.
At a press conference late Thursday, the director of the Fire Services Department David Lai Man-hin broke into tears as he hailed the firefighters as professionals. He claimed that he would not risk sacrificing his colleagues, and said that a committee will be formed to investigate the deaths. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also expressed his condolences.
Lai said that the biggest challenge faced by his colleagues was to break into the building’s more than 200 mini-storage cubicles. The cubicles are locked and protected by metal sheets, but the interior of some of the units have caught fire.
However, Lai did not directly respond to reporters’ questions as to whether the department had made a mistake in adopting a more “active” firefighting strategy. Kong Ping-lam, Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Kowloon, had earlier stated that firefighters were breaking through the cubicles at the same time as putting out the flames.
The fire at the Amoycan Industrial Centre started at 10:59am on Tuesday. It was upgraded to a third-alarm fire at 12:14pm, and fourth-alarm – the second-highest level of severity – by 7:46pm. Cracks have appeared on the exterior walls of the 66-year-old building, although authorities have denied that it is in imminent danger of collapse.