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December 11, 2009

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Worker killed as blaze sweeps through basement

A MAN died yesterday when fire broke out in the basement he was working in on Bao'an Road in Jiading District.

It was the second fatal fire in the city in the past three days.

Yesterday's fire broke out at 7:47am and quickly spread throughout the 200-square-meter basement and later to the three-floor building above on Bao'an Road, Jiading police said.

The blaze destroyed a small shop on the first floor and burned through the windows and doors of dormitories on the two floors above, but no one was hurt.

Police said three workers were cutting steel in the basement when the fire broke out.

Two workers escaped but a third, a man in his 40s, was overcome.

The fire had been put out by 8:30am and the body of the victim recovered.

The three were turning the basement from an underground ice chamber into a store room.

Firefighters said the workers were using an open flame which had set alight to inflammable materials.

A witness surnamed Huang said he saw black smoke rising from the basement and shrouding the whole street.

"The heavy smoke was thick like fog," he said. "Many people rushed out of that building, some still wearing pajamas."

Huang said the smoke and its choking smell had residents in a panic but firefighters and an ambulance were quick to arrive.

Another witness surnamed Xu said he was sleeping at a nearby building when he heard screaming that the basement was on fire.

Shanghai Public Security Bureau said the city had 260 fire incidents in the past two weeks, 40 percent more than the previous two.

The most recent was on Tuesday when an 18-year-old girl died in a print shop fire on Hefei Road in Luwan District.

Over the past fortnight, four other people died in fires and one person was injured.


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