Hundreds flee fire at 24-story building in Ho Chi Minh City

Thanh Nien News

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A fire broke out this morning in a 22nd-floor apartment in Ho Chi Minh City's District 4, prompting an evacuation of the mixed-use Copac Square building on Ton Dan Street.  
No injuries were reported.

According to witnesses, an explosion erupted at around 10 a.m. on June 23 and sent flames shooting out of the apartment and black smoke billowing into the upper floors.

Hundreds of office workers and residents took to the stairs at once.

The district’s firefighting force dispatched five trucks carrying dozens of firemen to the site. The blaze was completely extinguished roughly 30 minutes after it began.

No injuries were reported, although the whole apartment and those located just above it were burned black.

“After hearing the fire alarm, I ran down the stairs to the ground floor holding my little grandchild in my hands. At that time, the electricity was cut, and the lift stopped working,” Sau, a resident of the 20th floor told Thanh Nien.

The building's security guards joined a large group of volunteers who helped carry the elderly to safety.

Nguyen Thi Hai, 94, was carefully carried down the stairs by her two nieces.

“There isn't a man in our house, only women, including an old lady who can't walk by herself. We were out of breath carrying her down from the 21st floor,” one of the girls said as she struggled to catch her breath.

Nguyen Thi Kia, 61, was cooking in her apartment on the 11th floor when she heard the noise of people running down the stairs.

“My soul is still traveling somewhere outside my frightened body," Kia said. "We were cooking lunch when we saw neighbors shouting and running down the stairs. We immediately locked the gas valve and joined the fleeing  crowd.”

Hours after the fire was put out, many residents remained gathered on the pavement outside the building, reluctant to return home. 
Some said they planned to spend the next few nights at friends’ houses, fearing that the fire would somehow reignite.

A billboard not far from the building ironically read “Warmly respond to the 16th National Week of Safe Labor and Fire Defense - 2014”.

Office workers inside the building got the the rest of the afternoon and the following day off.

The 24-floor building of Copac Square contains two basement garages and four stories of rented offices; shops occupy the ground floor and numerous apartments fill the upper floors.
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