The high tower is located in the city of Ulsan, South Korea. The structure caught on fire on Friday, October 8, 2020, at about 11:00 p.m. (local time) and persisted on until the following morning.
The tower serves as an apartment building and as a result, numerous people were inside when the flames engulfed the structure. Numerous residents quickly evacuated the building and many were rescued but, according to recent updates, 91 were hospitalized with minor issues including smoke inhalation. Fortunately, there were no casualties caused by the incident. "Suddenly, the fire came up. The windows were broken and the living room and bedroom lit up," a witness, stated.
The response of the city's Fire Department was stunning as firefighters arrived just 5 minutes after a call was made from the 12th floor of the tower. The total force deployed at the scene included 930 firefighters and 75 emergency rescuers. According to officials, the reaction of the rescue teams is responsible for not having any victims during the incident.
Authorities have not yet clarified the causes of the fire but they managed to pinpoint its route. The blaze initiated on one of the lower floors and propagated through the exterior walls of the building eventually reaching its roof. Putting out the fire was not an easy task for the Fire Department since strong winds devastated the area during that particular night. A detailed investigation on the circumstances of the fire engulfment will be launched soon.
According to witnesses, slabs of concrete failed and fell into the streets below, a fact the proves that the building has undergone structural damage to a certain degree.
Unfortunately, similar fire incidents are not uncommon in South Korea and some believe that this is associated with inadequate safety regulations. In April 2020, a building under construction situated near Seoul caught on fire while 77 laborers were occupied with construction works. 38 workers were reported dead and many were hospitalized after suffering major injuries. The causes of the fire remained unknown but some speculations suggest that oil ignited to initiate the fire.
In January 2018, a hospital in Miryang, southeastern of the country, was engulfed in fires and at least 37 people died. According to the director of the hospital, the 6-story building was not equipped with sprinklers that could have prevented the propagation of the fire and the disaster. Nevertheless, the guidelines issued in 2016 (in Korea) suggest that every building with 6 stories or more should be protected via a sprinkler system.