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July 26, 2010

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Fire guts downtown building

A FIRE ripped through a downtown building yesterday, blocking traffic on Yan'an Road as dozens of fire trucks and police cars rushed to the scene.

Nearly 200 square meters of the building had been burned but no one was reported injured.

The fire started about 1:20pm on the second floor of a three-story building at the corner of Shimen No.1 Road and Yan'an Road M.

The building was used by an advertising company and a large number of paper was stored inside.

A team of electricians who were working in the building next to the advertising company first spotted the fire and called police.

"I smelled some burning when I walked out of the room, which I thought was some wires that caught fire," said Chang En'an, who later went out of Lane 17 on Shimen No.1 Road beside the building and saw the fire.

"The flames first soared out of one window and then spread to a second one and then a third one," Chang told Shanghai Daily at the scene while firefighters were extinguishing the blaze.

"The windows were shattered by the fire and when the firefighters came, the blaze had become hard to control."

The building was enveloped in smoke that could be seen about 2 kilometers away.

Hundreds of residents in the neighborhood were evacuated when the first firefighters arrived and police cordoned off the area.

"When the first two firefighters climbed into the building, part of the ceiling on the third flood suddenly collapsed, which was very dangerous," Chang said.

The fire then spread to a storage area in the building and it took one hour for firefighters to put it out with 14 fire engines.

The third floor of the building was rented out as a billiards hall.

Traffic almost stopped, especially on Yan'an Elevated Road, as drivers slowed down to see what was happening.

Police had to block traffic between Shimen No.1 Road and Dagu Road, with 40 officers guiding drivers along the section.

The building, the former Jindu Theater, was once the main stage in Shanghai for Yueju Opera performances.


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