Go to contents

6 firemen killed in Seoul blaze

Posted March. 04, 2001 17:58,   


Six firemen were killed Sunday morning while battling a house fire in Seodaemun-gu, western Seoul.

The deaths occurred when the two-story house collapsed, burying them in the rubble and leaving three other fire fighters seriously injureed. All seven members of the four households living in the house escaped uninjured.

After receiving a 119 report of the fire at about 3:48 a.m., 46 members of the Seoul Sobu Fire Station along with 20 fire engines arrived on the scene at 3:57 a.m. The engines were unable to get close to the site of the blaze, some 200 meters from the main road, due to cars parked on both sides of the six-meter wide alley leading to the house. Setting up 100 meters away, the firemen dragged hoses to the scene and successfully brought the blaze under control in about 10 minutes.

But nine firemen had already rushed into the house upon hearing that there was still someone inside. About three or four minutes later, the building collapsed and six of them were buried. Built using bricks but without reinforced iron rods, the house was 30 years old, according to police.

Neighbors told police that they heard the owner of the house, only identified as Sun, 65, in a heated argument with her son, Choi, 32, shortly before the fire broke out. Police suspect that Choi, who has a history of mental disease, might have intentionally set the blaze.

The Seoul city government gave posthumous promotions to each of the firemen who died in the fire and they are to be buried at the National Cemetery in Tongjak-dong, Seoul. A funeral ceremony will be held behind City Hall at 8 a.m. Tuesday. A memorial altar was set up in the first-floor lobby at City Hall`s Sosomun Annex Hall No. 1.

Huh Mun-Myung angelhuh@donga.com