Jiangsu dispatches investigation team after building fire caused by electric bikes kills 15, injures 44
Published: Feb 24, 2024 02:11 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

East China’s Jiangsu Province has dispatched an investigation team to look into the cause and responsibilities for the deadly fire that broke out in the provincial capital of Nanjing early Friday morning, which has killed 15 people and placed 44 in hospital for treatment, authorities announced Saturday at a press conference. Preliminary analysis shows the fire was caused by the electric bicycles parked inside the building.

The mayor of Nanjing, Chen Zhichang, said the command center of the city’s fire rescue brigade received the report of a fire at a residential building in Yuhuatai district at 4:39 am on Friday. The fire was extinguished at around 6 am, and an on-site search and rescue operation was completed by 2 pm Friday. 

As of press time, the incident resulted in 15 fatalities, with 44 individuals receiving treatment in hospitals. Among them, one is in critical condition, one in serious condition, and 42 have minor injuries.

Chen bowed down and apologized to the families of the deceased and the injured at the press conference, expressing his deep condolences.  

Jiangsu Province has established an investigation team to thoroughly probe the cause and responsibilities of the fire. “We will fully cooperate, uncover the facts, and hold accountable those responsible for negligence in accordance with the law and regulations. We will not tolerate any leniency,” Chen said. 

According to Nanjing fire rescue brigade chief Liang Jun, preliminary investigation showed the fire started at the elevated ground level of the building and was caused by electric bikes parked there. The specific cause is under further investigation.

A total of eight fire rescue stations including 25 fire trucks and 130 firefighters were immediately dispatched to the scene upon receiving the report, Liang said. 

Relocation of affected residents have been properly arranged, officials added. Apart from those who temporarily settle in relatives’ places, a total of 229 hotel rooms have been arranged to accommodate 516 affected individuals. 

Each hotel has assigned eight dedicated staff members to provide round-the-clock support, including meals, disposable clothing, chargers, toiletries, warm clothing, and a supply of basic medicines to meet the daily needs of the relocated residents.

The Nanjing safety commission held an expanded meeting on Friday afternoon, addressing the handling of accidents and thorough rectification of safety hazards across the city. 

Officials at the meeting said they will carry out comprehensive investigation into safety hazards, focusing on more than 15,000 high-rise buildings, 238 large-scale commercial and trade venues, over 121,000 small-scale operating venues in the city, as well as various mixed production and operation venues, residential areas, affordable housing areas, urban villages, and other densely populated areas.

Concentrated efforts to eliminate fire hazards will be carried out, with special attention given to high-risk issues such as the blocking of fire evacuation channels, charging electric bicycles indoors, and overhead wire charging.

A three-year action plan will follow to tackle the root causes of safety hazards, so as to address other weaknesses in urban safety management, stressed the meeting. 

It also shed light on the response of the recent freezing rain weather, noting that snow removal and ice clearing on urban roads, bridges, tunnels and construction sites must be done in a timely manner, meanwhile identifying potential risks in the city’s critical infrastructure, and making every effort to ensure smooth traffic flow and safety.

The fire incident soon drew widespread attention over the internet, and it has been found that the residential community where the building locates had reported two fires previously. 

According to a report by the local Nanjing Broadcasting System in April 2022, a fire had broken out in 2019 in the community’s residential area due to an excessive and densely packed parking of electric bikes on the elevated ground floor without fire safety equipment, causing concerns among residents. 

The authorities had previously stated their intention to install fire extinguishers, sprinklers, and other fire safety equipment, according to the report.

Global Times