Ho Chi Minh City firefighters battle the latest blaze to beak out at Taiwanese shoe-making firm Pou Yuen Vietnam Wednesday morning. Photo by Cong Nguyen
More than 500 Ho Chi Minh City firefighters Wednesday spent nearly five hours putting out a fire that destroyed 4,000 square meters of the factory and warehouse of a Taiwanese shoe company.
No casualties were reported and an investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the blaze and estimate the cost of the damages.
Cu Phat Nghiep, labor union chairman of Pou Yuen Vietnam, said the damage "must be vast as the warehouse of finished products was almost burned to ashes."
General Le Tan Buu, deputy director of the city's Fire Fighting Police Department, said he was informed of the fire just before 5 a.m. on Wednesday, 15 minutes after it started.
He then ordered 15 out of 17 fire police units to the site.
Buu said the fire started on the fourth floor of the production area of the 42,000-square-meter factory in the outlying Binh Tan District, and then spread, fueled by flammable products such as styrofoam, rubber and chemicals.
Nghiep the labor union chairman said if the fire happened during the day, around 12,000 workers would have been there.
He said the company, which is among the biggest employers in the city, will try to make sure to keep all of its more than 82,500 workers employed despite the incident.
Given delayed work due to the fire, workers in the affected area will be given paid days off, he said.
The exporter of sport shoes and other clothing pays around VND500 billion (US$23.73 million) in wages each month, he said.
A fire also broke out at the factory last May, burning nearly 900 square meters of its area.
Buu said two major fires in three months suggest that "there are problems" with fire safety at the company.
In July 2011, the company was fined $28,000 for multiple environmental violations, including excessive emissions of gas and dust.
In June, more than 1,000 employees went on a wildcat strike over issues related to payment and hygiene.
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