November 30, 2011 Bloomberg, By Mark Lee and Sandi Liu
The cause of the blaze in Fa Yuen Street is “suspicious” and arson can’t be ruled out, Anna Tsang, the police deputy district commander for the area, told reporters
The cause of the blaze in Fa Yuen Street is “suspicious” and arson can’t be ruled out, Anna Tsang, the police deputy district commander for the area, told reporters. The fire started at about 4:40 a.m. and was largely extinguished by 12:28 p.m. according to a government statement.
About 50 hawkers’ stalls were burnt down and nearby shops damaged in an arson attack in Fa Yuen Street in December last year. Hong Kong’s Kowloon district, packed with apartment blocks lining its narrow streets, is famous for its markets and shops, where tourists bargain for traditional cheongsam dresses, toys, hand bags and electrical appliances.
“This is saddening and shocking, and isn’t the first time we have seen this type of problem — last year there was a fire on the same street,” Chief Executive Donald Tsang told reporters. “We’ve taken steps including separating hawker stalls from residential blocks and limiting expansion of the stall areas. But it isn’t enough.”
Smoke was still billowing at 12:35 p.m. from a residential building above one of the hawkers’ stalls on Fa Yuen Street, near the Prince Edward subway station and the Mong Kok Police Station.
Block Cordoned Off
Four ambulances and more than 10 fire engines were stationed near the street, one road down from the Ladies Market, and police cordoned off an entire block. About 400 people were evacuated from the affected area, an officer surnamed Lau said. He declined to give his full name.
Stalls selling everything from fruit to clothing on an adjacent block on Fa Yuen Street were open for business.
“Fires are quite regular here,” a 37-year-old housewife surnamed Chung said. The woman, who would only provide her surname, said she and her family left their home near the fire at about 4 a.m. and had been prevented from returning to their apartment by police.
A hawker who lives in the area, Lee Sau Yin, 61, said he was woken up by his daughter at 4 a.m. and didn’t have time to collect any of his belongings.
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