Tower block fire sends 88 to hospital; no deaths reported

October 9, 2020

 Firefighters brought a fire at a high-rise apartment building in the southeastern city of Ulsan under complete control on Friday after nearly 14 hours of battling the flames, officials said.

The blaze broke out at around 11:07 p.m. Thursday at the 33-story Samhwan Art Nouveau commercial and residential building in Ulsan, and flames spread quickly by strong winds to the entire building.

Hundreds of people were evacuated and at least 88 people were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment for smoke inhalation, but no deaths were reported, according to officials.

Firefighters continued work to prevent embers from flaring up again amid strong winds and to search for anyone who might be inside.

Smoke billows from a 33-story apartment building in the southeastern city of Ulsan on the morning of Oct. 9, 2020, after a fire broke out there at around 11 p.m. the previous day amid strong winds. (Yonhap)
A 33-story apartment building in South Korea's southern city of Ulsan is engulfed in fire on Oct. 8, 2020, in this photo provided by a witness. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Debris from a 33-story apartment building in Ulsan is scattered on nearby streets on Oct. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)
Smoke and flames are seen at a 33-story apartment building in South Korea's southern city of Ulsan on Oct. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

Smoke billows from a 33-story apartment building in the southeastern city of Ulsan on the morning of Oct. 9, 2020, after a fire broke out there at around 11 p.m. the previous day amid strong winds. (Yonhap)

The fire is presumed to have broken out on the 12th floor of the building, which houses more than 120 households and shopping units.

An investigation is under way to find out what caused the fire, and the Ulsan Metropolitan Police Agency set up a task force involving 40 officials for a probe as well as a separate team in charge of supporting victims, according to the officials.

Witnesses said that the exterior walls of the building, possibly insulation, appear to have caused the fire to spread quickly.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for mobilizing all resources available to put out the fire and ensure the safety of the people, and Interior and Safety Minister Chin Young visited the scene to check responses.

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