Harbin Fire Disaster and Building Collapse, Chinese Reactions

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

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.




Written by Steve Lambert


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