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Warehouse fire extinguished

Updated: 2013-12-17 00:31
By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou ( China Daily)

Local government provides housing, food, water to 680 displaced families

Warehouse fire extinguished

About 380 firefighters and 58 engines were sent to put out a fire at a 25-story building in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, which had been turned into a warehouse for shoes and other flammable items.[Yang Hui / for China Daily]

Firefighters remained busy on Monday evening spraying water to cool an uncompleted building — Jianye Mansion — that had burned for about 12 hours in the Guangdong provincial capital of Guangzhou.

White smoke and steam was still rising from the scene late in the day, while most of the glass on the outer walls had peeled off and was gone.

The fire was mostly out by about 6:30 am on Monday, but hot spots remained. Further measures need to be taken to prevent the fire from breaking out again, a firefighter said at the scene.

Duan Dehai, deputy head of Guangzhou's Yuexiu district, said the fire broke out at about 6:50 pm on Sunday, and evacuation of the neighborhood began at about 8 pm.

"A total of 1,367 residents from 608 families living within a radius of 150 meters of Jianye Mansion have, so far, been evacuated to 39 nearby hotels and inns," Duan said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.

A fire victim said he was evacuated to Guangzhou Hotel after being asked to leave his home on Sunday night by members of the local neighborhood committee.

"The evacuation is timely, but the arrangement is a bit confusing, and I really don't know when I can return home," he said.

The Yuexiu district government contributed more than 3 million yuan ($494,000) to help the evacuees settle down and ensure that they have food and drinking water, he said.

"We have sent neighborhood committee officials and personnel to every hotel that has fire victims to help them through their difficulties and calm them down," he added.

Duan urged the evacuees not to return home before the area is proved to be safe and authorities have given a green light.

Three primary schools were closed because of the blaze.

Duan said all the schools affected by the disaster will resume classes on Tuesday.

No deaths or injures have been reported so far.

Developers stopped work on the 25-story structure — originally designed as a commercial building — after the Asian financial crisis in 1998. In 2000, they leased the uncompleted building to local shoe traders for use as a warehouse.

The fire's cause was still under investigation, and the busy Qiyi Road and nearby streets in Guangzhou's Yuexiu district continued to be cordoned off.

"When Qiyi Road will resume normal traffic operations is still unknown," a police officer said. He estimated that the road will remain closed until at least late Monday.

According to a news release from the Guangdong provincial fire department, 58 fire engines and more than 380 firefighters were sent to the scene to help extinguish the blaze.

A Jianye Mansion property owner said the fire first broke out on the building's third floor and spread rapidly. Within about 10 minutes, it had spread to the 21st floor, the property owner said.

"The mansion was storing many shoes, sponges and other flammables," said the property owner, who did not want to be named.

The building lacked sufficient fire-protection facilities, the property owner said.

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