Two firefighters died on Friday trying to contain a Beijing shopping mall fire while inside the building, CCTV reports. The two men, Liu Hongkun and Liu Hongkui, were trapped on the fourth floor of the flame-engulfed shopping mall when they eventually ran out of oxygen.
Liu Hongkun, the Chief of Staff, wasn’t on duty Friday, but volunteered to help. He knew the only way to contain the fire was to tackle the flames from within, and went in with his staff to control it.
When he realized that the fire was spreading to the fourth floor, which housed a restaurant and gas supply, he went up to assess the situation along with veteran firefighter Liu Hongkui.
“I heard Chief of Staff Liu say the alarm was going off on his oxygen tank and they needed backup,” one of the firefighters at the scene said. The two men were never heard from again.
It took nearly seven hours to extinguish the fire and four more hours to locate the bodies of Liu Hongkun and Liu Hongkui under the rubble of the fourth floor, where they were found “holding each other in close embrace”.