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November 27, 2010

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Residents force death blaze contractor to clear fire hazard

MANAGEMENT took swift action after city residents complained that the subcontractor involved in the downtown blaze that left 58 dead this month was creating a fire hazard in their building.

Householders in a Changping Road building raised concerns that workers from Jiayi Building Decoration Engineering Co were stocking decorating materials in their building, blocking hallways.

A resident surnamed Zhao living at 31, Lane 88, Changping Road, said several Jiayi workers stayed on the first floor of the building.

"All kinds of decorating materials, including paint, were stored in the hallway, and we were worried," Zhao told reporters.

"The building's fire exit is rather narrow, and with these items in the passageway, there could be a disaster if fire broke out," Zhao said.

Residents reported the matter to the neighborhood committee, which then told police.

Jiayi workers removed the materials yesterday afternoon. "The neighborhood property management officials saw the conditions and told the workers to remove their materials at once," said Li Xiaoping, a security guard.

Zhao said the workers usually wore Jiayi uniforms, but changed to casual clothes following the fire on November 15 at Jiaozhou Road in Jing'an District. The blaze has been blamed on lax supervision and unlicensed welders.

The committee also told other residents to remove items stored at fire exits.

Meanwhile, heightened concerns about fire risks in the wake of the Jiaozhou Road blaze have placed great pressure on local fire hotline 96119.

Officials said before November 15 they received no more than five calls a day, but now they handle around 100.

Residents calling the number are complaining about expired fire extinguishers, locked safety exits and other dangers.

Usually the hotline gives a response within a week, but recently it has taken 10 days.

Reports are normally sent to the Shanghai Fire Control Bureau, from where these are passed to district branches.

Hotline operators called for patience and said that they will try to solve residents' problems as soon as possible.


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