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  Flashover: Badly Hurt Firefighter
Publicado - Published: 31/05/2007

CHINA.- Firefighter Chin Kwok-ming believes he has been to hell and back.

The senior fireman, who was critically injured in a third-alarm blaze at a Tsuen Wan factory building last week, in which a colleague was killed and five others were also injured, feels he owes his life to his family, which "gave me the strength to hold on."

"The thought of my family at the most critical moment provided me the strength and the determination to pull through," Chin said Wednesday with his wife by his side as he was being discharged from Yan Chai Hospital in Tsuen Wan.

Chin and Wong Ka-hei, 27, who died in the inferno, were among the first group of firemen to arrive at the electroplating workshop on the sixth floor of QPL Industrial Building on Texaco Road as it was going up in flames.

Inside the burning building they were hit by the deadliest threat facing firefighters - a flashover - described as the simultaneous ignition of combustible material in an enclosed area, which killed Wong.

Wong was the last officer in a group which fled the scene as the heat intensified, but he did not make it. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said he was saddened by the tragedy and saluted Wong as a hero of Hong Kong.

Another fireman, Lee Kwok-ming, 36, who was seriously injured, was released from Princess Margaret Hospital last week, while none of the other four injured officers required hospitalization.

Recalling his horrific ordeal, Chin said he considered himself lucky to be still alive.

"I almost lost consciousness [after being hit by the flashover] and did not know what actually happened.

"The conditions at the time were very harsh, but as I thought of my family, it gave me the strength to hold on till the end," Chin said.

"I want to thank you all for your concern and care. I need to take this opportunity to thank my wife too for her strong support.

"The doctor told me I'm on the road to recovery, and that I'm not emotionally troubled."

The officer said, however, he was deeply saddened by the loss of his colleague. "I hope they [Wong's family] will overcome their suffering and sorrow and lead normal lives again."

The sixth floor of QPL Industrial Building remained sealed off Wednesday as investigators continued to sift through the debris for clues that might shed more light on the cause of the fire.

The focus of the probe is on the workshop's sprinkler system after it was found that the main supply to the system had been turned off.

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