A 35-year-old Hong Kong man cheated death on Wednesday night by jumping across a three-metre (9.8-foot) gap from the laundry rack outside his eighth-floor flat onto the roof of an adjacent building after a fire broke out in his housing block in a suspected case of arson.
An online video shows the man standing on the rack as dense smoke pours from his flat before taking the hair-raising leap onto the roof of the neighbouring residential block on Wa Fung Street, in Hung Hom.
He later told police he had been sleeping in the flat when fires broke out on staircases between the sixth and eighth floors of the building a little after 11pm on Wednesday.
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“He called police, saying he was woken up as smoke spread into his flat,” a police source said.
As the staircases filled with smoke, which in turn spilled into his flat, the man was forced to climb out of the window and onto the laundry rack as he waited for help.
He ultimately made the decision to jump to the roof of the adjacent building – a six-storey block – before emergency personnel could reach him. The two buildings were about three metres apart.
The police source said the man, who works as the driver of a delivery van, was unhurt in the incident.
The Fire Services Department deployed 11 fire engines and one ambulance to the scene of the blaze after receiving a report at 11.04pm.
According to the department, 10 residents fled the building before emergency personnel arrived and firefighters led another 20 to safety.
Firefighters used two hoses to battle the blaze, and finally put it out around 11.40pm. No casualties were reported.
A government spokeswoman said firefighters found the blaze suspicious, and handed the case over to police.
“There were four sources of fire on the staircases between the sixth and eighth floors of the building,” the police source said. However, he added, no accelerant was found at the scene.
Police have nonetheless classified the fire as a case of arson, and detectives from the Kowloon City criminal investigation unit are investigating. So far, no arrests have been made.
In a separate incident, 40 people were evacuated from Glory House on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai at around 5.46am on Thursday after fire broke out in a third-floor flat. Firefighters managed to extinguish the flames about half an hour later.
A woman, 61; her son, 26; his wife, 28; and the couple’s son, four, were taken to Ruttonjee Hospital after reporting feeling unwell after inhaling smoke.
Police are investigating the cause of the blaze.