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Students flee flames in pajamas

[ 2009-03-17 11:49]     字号 [] [] []  
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Fire devoured a makeshift student dormitory building in northeast Beijing yesterday morning, injuring one person and forcing more than 400 students to stay in a temporary shelter without a change of clothes.

Some of the students of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts escaped wearing only sleepers with bare feet and pajamas after fleeing the fire in a hurry.

Wang Shuai, a student from Liaoning province, didn't have time to get his wallet.

"The only valuable thing on me is my cell phone, and I forgot to take the charger out," he said.

But he and other students didn't seem concerned about how they were going to spend the next few days. "The school will take care of us," he said.

The students were living in temporary buildings made of steel sheets with foam plastic in between, which can easily catch fire and release toxic smoke.

Wang Xiang, a 21-year-old man, suffered burns to his respiratory tract, according to sources with the Beijing Red Cross 999.

He was sent to hospital for treatment.

Qin Jianping, a spokeswoman for the academy, said Wang Xiang is not a registered student, suggesting he might be a job seeker who rented a room in the building.

The two-storey temporary building, rented by the China Central Academy of Fine Arts to accommodate low-level employees and students of its Adult Education Institute, caught fire around 10 am yesterday.

Wind quickly spread the fire to other parts of the building. One hundred and forty firefighters battled the blaze, which was put out at 12:10 pm.

Though the reason for the fire is still under investigation, the fire department said that steel sheets with foam plastic inside is "not the proper material to be used for building student dormitories."

Qin said the building was being rented, since the school has no additional dorms for the students.

The students staying in this dorm are different from the undergraduates enrolled through the national college entrance exam, and the latter are all accommodated properly in student dorms.

But she stressed that the school gave fire escape training to the students.

Wang Shuai said he had not felt anything wrong living in the building until the fire.

"Actually, the makeshift building is okay, except for the poor soundproofing because the walls were made of foam plastic," said Wang, who has lived on the ground floor for a year.

"But I didn't expect it catches fire so quickly," he said.

The flammable oil paint used by art students in the dorm also made the fire bigger and hard to extinguish.

But thanks to the fact many students were attending classes and a quick response by the school's security guards, more than 440 students living in the dorm were unharmed.

All the students were moved to the college's campus in Yanjiao in Hebei province by yesterday evening, but many of them have no extra clothes to change into and no money.

Qin said the college will give students necessities like toothpaste and towels as well as subsidies. But she declined to reveal the long-term plans to accommodate these students.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Students flee flames in pajamas

About the broadcaster:

Students flee flames in pajamasBernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.