Shopping mall fire sounds alarm for safety

11:18, April 28, 2011      

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A blaze at a large shopping mall on Wednesday in downtown Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, caused no casualties but sounded an alarm on prevention and control of big fires in Chinese cities.

The fire at TeeMall, one of the largest shopping malls in the city, started at 10 am and was put out 25 minutes later, sources with the TeeMall Group said.

The blaze broke out after the cooling tower of a restaurant on the sixth floor ignited, the sources said.

"There was no fire alarm ringing, but we saw a lot of smoke outside, so we ran out of the office very quickly," said Chen Mian, a white-collar worker in the mall.

The fire had little impact on businesses at the mall, a company manager surnamed Wang said.

"We responded promptly to put out the blaze. So business resumed shortly after the incident," Wang said.

"There was a lot of smoke, but the fire was not very big."

Mall managers checked all the fire safety equipment shortly after the incident, and found none had been damaged, according to Wang.

However, the fire has sounded an alarm for local authorities to take effective measures to prevent fires. In January, Guangzhou Vice-Mayor Su Zequn said the city had strengthened its efforts to control fires in urban buildings.

"We are now able to put out a huge fire as serious as the one that happened in Shanghai last November since we have state-of-the-art facilities," Su said.

A blaze at a 28-floor apartment building in Shanghai's Jing'an district killed 58 people and injured 71 on Nov 15.

According to Su, Guangzhou authorities spend nearly 80 million yuan ($12.3 million) to upgrade extinguishing facilities each year.

The incident in Guangzhou followed a number of large fires in big cities this month.

A fire at the Shanghai Telecom Building killed at least four people on April 19, after a metal-cutting machine used by workers to cut an air conditioning duct ignited thermal insulation.

And at least 17 people were killed and 24 others seriously injured in a four-floor building fire in the southern Beijing suburb on Monday.

"Why have there been so many fires recently in big cities? Authorities should do more to prevent fires and improve fire-control facilities," said Yi Xiangmei, a Guangzhou resident.

Yi was also concerned about the prevalence of skyscrapers in big cities.

"Authorities should think twice about building so many skyscrapers in urban areas. A deadly incident can easily occur if a big fire happens in such a high-rise," Yi said.

Also on Wednesday, a fire broke out at the Ximenkou Square in the city's Liwan district, causing hundreds of residents to be displaced.

No casualties were reported in this fire.

Source:China Daily
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