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January 2, 2013

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Firefighter heroes die in hospital

Three firefighters, including a 22-year-old Shanghai native, died after they became trapped while battling a factory blaze in the eastern city of Hangzhou yesterday morning.

The Hangzhou Yusei Machinery Co Ltd plant caught fire at around 2:39am and the blaze soon spread across 12,104 square meters of workshops, fueled by flammable materials such as plastic products, cartons and foam stored.

Huge palls of foul-smelling smoke engulfed the plastics moulding plant and surrounding area and hadn't dispersed by the afternoon.

Gao Feng, a taxi driver, said that during the height of the blaze the smoke covered an area within seven kilometers of the plant.

Seventy fire engines and six ambulances were at the scene where 238 firefighters tackled the inferno. The heat from the blaze was so fierce that two fire engines were destroyed.

There were no reports of casualties among the workforce but three firefighters died and two others were injured.

Chen Wei, Yin Zhihui and Yin Jinliang had gone missing during the blaze. When the fire was brought under control at around 10.50am they were found trapped.

Attempts were made to resuscitate them and they were rushed to the hospital. However, all three were pronounced dead after emergency treatment failed.

Chen, 22, was born in Shanghai and became a firefighter just two years ago.

Yin Zhihui, 20, had only been in the service for a year while Yin Jinliang, 30, had served for nine years. Yin got married just 10 days ago, the Qianjiang Evening News reported.

Yesterday, the Xiaoshan government awarded all three the title of "People's Bodyguard" for sacrificing their lives in the service of others.

The two injured firefighters are being treated in the Xiaoshan No. 2 People's Hospital. Wang Lei, 18, broke bones in his left hand while 35-year-old Huang Haijun is in intensive care and not out of danger, according to hospital doctors.

Huang suffered damage to his respiratory system but was conscious.

Zhejiang Province authorities have ordered Xiaoshan in Hangzhou to test the surrounding area and rivers to see if they have been polluted as a result of the blaze.

An investigation into what caused the fire is under way.

The Hangzhou company, in the Xiaoshan Economic and Technological Development Zone in Guali Town, is one of five branches on China's mainland founded by the Yusei Japan Machinery Corporation.


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