Harbin Fire Disaster and Building Collapse, Chinese Reactions

A large warehouse fire in Harbin claims the lives of multiple Chinese firefighters.

From Sina Weibo:

The Basic Circumstances of the Warehouse Fire at 727 Tai Gu Street, DaoWai District, Harbin

A large fire broke out in a storage facility at 727 Tai Gu Street in Harbin’s DaoWai District at 1:14pm on 2015 January 2. This Storage facility is associated with a work unit which has violated fire-code violations. The concrete and rebar structure was used for the wholesale of retail goods.

After the fire broke out, the Heilongjiang provincial committee and provincial government as well as the Harbin municipal committee, and city government took it very seriously [immediately responded]. Provincial party secretary Wang Xian Kui, visited the scene to direct operations; Provincial governor Lu Hao issued a command requiring all directly related departments to immediately be transferred to the scene and assist in rescue operations. They quickly began an investigation into the number of people buried in the rubble, as well as the reason for the fire. Secretary general and standing member of the provincial party Li Haitao and secretary general of the provincial government Li Xiangang have just arrived at the scene to organize the fire-fighting, search and rescue, and medical treatment operations; secretary of the municipal committee Chen Haipi made deployments at first notice. Mayor Song Xi Bin, Standing member of the municipal committee and acting vice mayor Nie Gunling, municipal committee standing member and head of the propaganda department Zhang Lixin, vice mayor Ren Ruichen and other city leaders were at the scene commanding the firefighting, search and rescue work; The provincial committee general office, provincial government general office, provincial safety supervision bureau, provincial public security department, the provincial health planning commission, public security fire headquarters, and other leading officials were at the scene assisting the command.

After the fire started, the fire department rushed to mobilize its forces, arriving to the scene at 1:23pm. They immediately began carrying out firefighting and rescue operations as well as dispersing the crowd of onlookers. The Harbin fire department dispatched 17 squadrons, 110 fire trucks, and 480 officers and personnel. After the units arrived, they discovered the 2nd story of a building close to Tai Gu Street had caught fire, and was burning ferociously. Due to the complicated situation of the storehouse, firefighting and rescue operations were difficult. The officers and men bravely fought the fire and kept the crowd away from danger. At 9:37, the building collapsed without warning, leading to the death and injury of firefighters. As of this moment, the lives of 2 firefighters were immediately lost at the scene; 15 firefighters and 1 peacekeeper have been taken to the hospital to receive medial attention. Among them, 1 died after emergency efforts were unsuccessful. 2 other firefighters are still missing. No one in the crowd was hurt. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Comments from Sina Weibo:


The fire brigade is who helps assist in extinguishing fires. Half the page is filled with the names of officials. How about the names of the firefighters?


I appreciate the government’s response in the press release, for giving orders, and for making deployments. Those government leaders of various levels who were directing efforts close to the front lines, for the example you set, I will take the lead in clicking “like”! But, I’d like to know the names of our comrades who sacrificed their lives… to remember them [pay our respects].


Professionals, please tell the Party Secretary to fuck off. On the scene of a rescue effort, it is the firefighters who are in command. Has the party secretary ever studied how to conduct or organize a firefighting or rescue effort? If we we don’t change this way of doing things [allowing unqualified leaders to direct operations], how many more lives of firefighters is it going to take? From Liu Hongkui in Beijing to the 2 firefighters killed in the Shanghai blast to over 10 being buried in the blink of an eye in Harbin today, have you reflected on this or not?


For each like/upvote you give me, a government leader/official dies.


Which leader gave the order to go in after the building was burnt to the state it was in? Why didn’t you go in yourself! Those poor firefighters!


Press releases always first talk about how the government leaders responded [and what they did], but what the public cares more about are the causalities.


Being from Harbin, I’m ashamed to see these kinds of press releases! Please remember the names of our young heroes: Zhao Xilong, DOB 1996.7.25, Fu Renchao DOB 1995.10.28, Zhang Xiaokai, DOB 1995.5.24 (the 3 already dead). Yang Xiaowei DOB 1992.2.9, Hou Baosen DOB 1994.7.29 (the 2 still missing)


This document explicitly listed out those who are responsible, and even did it in order! Their full names and positions are clear! Later when they’re looking for whose accountable fore this, just follow this list of leaders! Follow it in order! Punish them severely, one by one! Great job, official Weibo!


The entire release had 585 characters. 82 covered what happened at the scene, 77 covered the firefighters who sacrificed themselves (without even including their names), and the remaining 426 characters were all about the leaders attaching importance to this event [how they responded], their names, their titles and posts, its unbearable! Don’t ask me how I calculated this, I’m really … fricken …. bored…


[This release] isn’t even 1000 Characters and still has gotten this many people to curse it. Now that’s skill, and will be famous for all time.



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  • Dr Sun

    Always a tragedy when firefighters loose their lives , luckily Provincial party secretary Wang Xian Kui, Provincial governor Lu Hao Secretary
    general and standing member of the provincial party Li Haitao and secretary
    general of the provincial government Li Xiangang secretary of the
    municipal committee Chen Haipi were all deployed at first notice.
    Mayor Song Xi Bin, Standing member of the municipal committee and acting vice mayor Nie Gunling, municipal committee standing member and head of the propaganda department Zhang Lixin, vice mayor Ren Ruichen and other city leaders were at the scene commanding the firefighting, search and rescue work.

    Luckily they were all spared and the death toll would have much greater without these highly trained, experienced firefighter/search and rescue, Govt officials being on scene and in command.

    However maybe..just maybe if these leaders had created and enforced fire codes and regulations, we wouldn’t see so much of this kind of thing. I cant tell you how may fire doors I’ve seen chained up,how many sprinkler systems turned off, how many fire extinguishers past their recharge date it’s scary !

    • mr.wiener

      I had no idea the head of the propaganda dept was so skilled in dirrecting fire fighting efforts.
      Seriously, an old school propaganda write up like this is just embarressing.

      • bujiebuke

        I thought the same thing after reading the story. I wonder how many Chinese readers said, “cao tamade!” after reading it on the newspaper.

        • mr.wiener

          Judging from some of the comments above: quite a few.

    • guest

      Jackie Chan announced he is donating 500 thousand RMB to the families of the firefighters killed in the Harbin fire


  • Amused

    New year, same old shit.

  • lacompacida

    So inspite of all the interference from government and party officials who knows nothing about fire fighting, rescue works, public safety and crowd control, they happened to be able to put down the fire with less than 10 deaths. That is excellent work for a Chinese fire brigade.

  • Jahar

    110 fire trucks there? How could that many even get close enough to do anything?

  • guest

    Fire doesn’t discriminate. It just destroys.

  • biggj

    Everyone seems to want to give credit to these officials……..Well it seems they forgot to mention the 3 officials who actually vanquished the Japanese creature who was the cause of all this. With their commie powers they managed to save the city of Harbin from further devastation.

  • Guest

    I don’t know if I would trust this guy.He has one of those ” I’m gonna rape and murder you” kind of looks.

    • Balkan

      Mr. Hou Baosen died while trying to extinguish a fire and you who never even met him, are making a biased accusation of him not being trustworthy, based on a poor quality photo! Shame on you!

      • biggj

        Shit, I thought this was one of the official that was named in the paper for helping, I never knew this guy died, Yeah that’s my bad, I apologize for that. If I would have known that, I would not have posted that. Yeah I’ll delete it right away.

  • 山炮 ShanPao

    “Provincial party secretary Wang Xian Kui, visited the scene to direct operations”

    China is a developed nation and future leader of the world. Even the party officials are so qualified, their remit and expertise extends into the firefighting world. 牛B!

    • JayJay

      I was just there a day ago… apparently the official on site after the event wore a Moncler jacket worth 10,000 RMB (there was a photo) and the fire fighters family gets 20,000 RMB. Life is fucking cheap…

  • ClausRasmussen

    A top politician visiting a scene of disaster is not unusual (sometimes they’ll be criticized for not doing so), but in this case it avalanched into a characteristic Chinese fail-cascade where successive levels of management had to play follow-the-leader and visit the scene too to avoid losing face or to be seen out of line.

    The whole thing then gets exposed to the public because the propaganda department were obliged to list all managers involved, not least because they had to mention their own manager that got sucked in too. Excluding some could easily be construed as an affront and the beginning of an intra-political feud

    I don’t see any malice here or even individual incompetence handling the situation, instead the press-release is a symptom of a systematic failure ultimately caused by Chinese bureaucrats being… well, Chinese

    The press-release makes all the managers look stupid and inconsiderate of the loss of life and it understandable it cause the netizens rage, but the focus should really be on how the authorities in Harbin enforce fire regulations

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    …and just after the ‘bribe your local fire department to pass your fire code inspection’ season has ended… They always come in December, always make you buy 5 or 6 extinghuishers and a dozen posters…

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