The 24 Hours Online blogger Laohu ‘Tiger Temple’ Miao, who spent months earlier this year blogging the stories of destitute Beijing residents whose makeshift homes were harmonized to make way for the Olympics brings us a post today about a fire yesterday not far from the Olympic Bird Nest which began in portable toilets used by construction workers there and resulted in several small explosions.
To explain residents’ views on this fire, you have to look at the whole story. A few months back, the Olympic Organizing Committee put up the money to put up an plastic-plated decorative aluminum wall alongside this neighborhood so that not every laowai who walks by has to see it. Many residents were opposed to this, but didn't say so—only because it was a ‘tofu dregs’ construction job that this face was getting put onto—but they did want to point out that in order to keep it from being too easy for laowais to enter and observe, they went out of their way to seal off the two gates on the west side of the neighborhood (facing the Bird Nest), leaving only a single-person entry/exit point which until now leaves residents having to make a detour to go buy things. And the key point in this fire, it's precisely because the gates are sealed, cutting off a fire exit, that when the fire trucks came, they had to stop on Beichen East Road and were left feeling useless. Because of this, residents now have many objections, feeling quite strange about the weird justification for the design of the ornamental project which has now led to journalists from many countries coming to take many photos. It has truly left the community residents very unhappy.
Two fire trucks were dispatched for this, one ambulance, two police cars and countess police motorcycles that were only being used to shuttle around. From start to finish they struggled for about 40 minutes, and then the fire was out.
Only because of the sensitivity of the location, when the large fire broke out, dozens of laowais immediately rushed over to take pictures. This kind of scene is presumably painful to watch for patriotic types. After the fire, people slowly began dispersing until only residents remained, looking at the scorched side of the decorative fence so recently installed, leaving the crowd also just one topic: ‘face’ projects, turns out they're bad for people!