Shanghai fire death toll at 6

Updated: 2013-01-08 07:53

By Shi Yingying in Shanghai (China Daily)

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 Shanghai fire death toll at 6

Firefighters rescue a person injured in a fire at the Shanghai Farm Produce Wholesale Market on Sunday in Shanghai. The fire claimed six lives and injured more than 10 people. Yang Yi / for China Daily

Shanghai fire death toll at 6

Authorities urge public to beware of winter blazes

Firefighting authorities are urging people to pay attention to fire control in winter, a common season for fires, as several fires broke out around the country recently, claiming lives and causing economic losses.

In the latest case, a fire on Sunday night at the Shanghai Farm Produce Wholesale Market killed six people and injured dozens.

The fire started at 8:32 pm inside a dried farm goods store and soon spread throughout 2,000 square meters of the market before being extinguished 45 minutes later, according to a statement from the local government.

Firefighters found six bodies at the scene and a badly burned woman. A nurse from Changhai Hospital named Feng told China Daily that the family of the 57-year-old woman was told several times on Sunday night that she was near death, but the woman survived and remains in critical condition.

Li Changju, 49, a fish seller from Anhui province, said she was sleeping on the mezzanine floor when her store went up in flames.

"My son screamed 'fire'," said Li. "I hurried downstairs in my pajamas - it was like I was racing with the fire, which moved quickly along the wooden stairs. You've got no time to save your money and property in the store."

Li, who suffered burns to 3 percent of her body, is now in the burns unit of Shanghai's Changhai Hospital. She said because her shop was a wet area, the fire "came from above instead of below" from the dry-goods store close to her shop.

Li lost her niece and her nephew's wife, both in their 30s, in the fire.

"One of my relatives escaped, but she went back for her belongings and never came back," Li said, adding that she also lost 40,000 yuan ($6,349) in cash in the fire.

Twelve people were injured, including an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl. The children are receiving treatment in Changhai Hospital and are in stable condition.

Eight of the wounded came from the same family. Liu Faru, a distant relative of the family, said they ran the seafood business in the market. Of the eight, five are in the intensive care unit, two are in a public ward and one has been discharged.

Ma Bing, a doctor at Changhai Hospital, told Xinhua News Agency that only three patients suffered serious, but not life-threatening, burns.

According to Zhou Meiliang, a spokesman for the local firefighting authority, more than 500 firefighters and 57 fire engines were sent to battle the market blaze. "More than 100 stores in the market were affected," he said. "Winter is a fire-prone season."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Shanghai Farm Produce Wholesale Market is Shanghai's biggest market of its kind. It was reopened to the public on Monday afternoon.

At about 9 am on Monday morning, a fire broke out in downtown Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province.

The fire burned 9,400 square meters in the Guorun Home Textiles Shopping Mall, but no casualties were reported.

"At about 9 in the morning, the mall was open and there were some customers. Then security staff asked us to leave the mall, saying the thick smoke from a fire could harm us," said a property owner at the mall.

"Half an hour later, the fire grew bigger, I wanted to save my goods, worth 300,000 yuan, but security stopped me," the property owner said.

An onlooker told China Daily that some workers were welding, which may have ignited decorative materials outside the building.

"The fire has now been contained and the cause of the accident is under investigation," said Guo Ping, a spokesman from the local command headquarters.

On Thursday, more than 350 firefighters were sent to battle a factory blaze in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. No casualties were reported in the fire.

On Jan 1, three firefighters died after becoming trapped while battling a factory blaze in Zhejiang's Hangzhou.

Zhou Huiying in Harbin and Zhu Lingqing in Shanghai contributed to this story.

(China Daily 01/08/2013 page3)