Three firefighters killed in blaze at Chinese plastics factory

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Friday, July 18, 2008

A fire at a Rexam Plastics factory in China has claimed the lives of three firefighters. Nine more were injured in the accident in Shanghai's Fengxian District.

The first emergency call was received by Shanghai Public Security Bureau's 110 Command Center at 12:20 p.m. and reported the Jinhui Town factory as alight. A total of fifty fire engines and around 300 firefighters were dispatched to the scene of the blaze at the Rexam Plastic Packaging (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. facility.

Shortly after 2 p.m. a fifty-metre-long structural girder collapsed onto a group of firefighters. Those killed were crushed beneath it and died instantly. They were identified as Yao Lei, 20, Shi Jianhua, 31, and Yu Hai, 27. The nine injured were taken to Fengxian District Central Hospital, where one was transferred to Ruijin Hospital with burns and another to Shanghai No. 6 People's Hospital with suspected injuries to his spine.

All are said to be in a stable condition. There were no other injuries to firefighters or the general public.

The fire was contained by 5:30 p.m. and extuinguished by 8:00 p.m. At its height it covered 2,000 square and smoke was spread over ten kilometres. The area was sealed off as a petrol station was 200 metres from the area, and air and water quality tests are underway. A nearby drinking water plant was shut down as a precaution.

Rexam employees said the fire spread rapidly because flammable raw materials and plastic products were stored in the workshop, which had most of its equipment destroyed. Meanwhile, local authorities say the beam fell due to poor construction. Production at the site is not expected to be affected.