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Garden Expo to open on time despite tower blaze

By Zhang Wen (Global Times)

11:25, April 10, 2013

The body of Yongding Tower, an iconic building for the Ninth China (Beijing) International Garden Expo which will be held in May, catches fire in Fengtai district in Beijing at 3 pm on April 8, 2013. (China Daily)

Beijing International Garden Expo said the government has organized a team to conduct an investigation to find out the cause, economic losses and to map out repair work after a blaze Monday partly destroyed one of the site's main buildings.

At 3 pm Monday, Yongding Tower, a wooden pagoda structure, caught fire during the construction process. Due to Monday's heavy winds, the fire was not extinguished until 7:15 pm. Fifty-four trucks and 210 firefighters were sent to the site, which is in Fengtai district. There were no casualties, said the Expo's Sina microblog.

"The tower is one of the three major landmark structures in the Expo Garden, so we are trying to repair the tower and meet the date of the opening of the Expo on May 18," said a media officer surnamed Yang from the Garden Expo.

Organizing the 9th China (Beijing) International Garden Expo is under way smoothly, said Yang. The Expo's organizing committee has asked the exhibition sections and construction departments to draw a lesson from this fire and ensure construction safety.

"Although the fire didn't cause any casualties, we still feel sad about the disaster," read a post on the Expo's Sina microblog Tuesday.

According to the on-scene investigation, an area of 1,500 square meters was burnt. The tower courtyard and the southeast part of the tower caught fire, and the first, second, third, fifth and sixth stories of the tower have been partially damaged, according to the post.

One of the landmark buildings of the Garden Expo, Yongding Tower is a nine-story 69.7-meter-tall tower made of wood and concrete. Construction started in August 2011.

Some local workers said that exhaustion due to overtime work might be one of the reasons for the blaze.

"We've been working overtime for a long time, with many consecutive days working late into the night, until around 2 am," said a construction worker at the site, said a report on People's Daily Online Tuesday.

China International Garden Expo started in 1997, and has been held eight times in eight different cities across China.

Beijing will host the 9th Garden Expo from May to November this year.

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