A skyscraper under construction in the heart of a historic Hong Kong shopping and tourist district was left scorched yesterday by a massive fire, with authorities saying the blaze had been largely extinguished.
A journalist at the scene saw blackened concrete walls and the tattered remains of bamboo scaffolding around the building yesterday morning, as municipal workers swept roads clean of debris.
Officials said the fire in Tsim Sha Tsui on the territory’s harborfront was “largely put out” by 8:30am yesterday, nine hours after it erupted.
A major section of the neighborhood’s Nathan Road thoroughfare — one of Hong Kong’s main transport lifelines — had been shut, authorities said.
Traffic was disrupted as a result, they added.
No casualties were reported, but two people were treated for minor injuries, the Hong Kong Fire Services Department said.
Police said that 170 people from nearby residential blocks were relocated to a safe distance as embers fell to the ground.
Flames were first spotted near scaffolding at the top of the building on Thursday night, with the blaze clearly visible across the harbor and sending sparks raining down on to neighboring streets.
About an hour later, the fire had spread down the length of the building and approached street level, where hundreds of onlookers were gathered.
Japanese tourist Tosho Sai, who was staying in a nearby building, said a security guard told everyone on his floor to leave after a window in the unit next door was hit by embers.
A French business traveler passing the site said he saw “lots of debris falling” from the tower.
An acrid smell permeated the air, a reporter at the scene said.
Flames were seen on the roof of an office tower across the street at about 3:30am, prompting fears of a wider inferno in the densely built area.
Embers had sparked two fires on the roofs of nearby buildings, but they were quickly extinguished, fire department official Keung Sai-ming (姜世明) said.
“Last night there were strong winds, which blew the flames toward five nearby buildings,” he said.
The building was billed as a 42-story “harborside icon” in the making, intended to house the historic Mariners’ Club and a new hotel, according to the Web site of the building’s developer, Empire Group.
The HK$6 billion (US$764 million) redevelopment project was given the green light in 2019, and was expected to be completed in the first half of this year, local media reported.
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