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China: Olympic outhouses catch on fire, explode

Global Voices OlympicsThe 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.

该小区与鸟巢仅一街之隔,自四年前鸟巢开始兴建,这里成为民工闲暇时聚集热点。喝酒、聚餐、打话吧、购置日用消费品。热闹了好些个年头。近些日子随鸟巢逐步完工,民工骤然减少,商店也因此已关张了几家,剩下为数不多的也仅在勉强维持,期盼新的好运到来。
  此次着火及引发居民意见得从事情原委说起。几个月前,由奥组委掏钱为这个小区沿街一面凡可被外人看到的墙体粘挂铝塑装饰面板。对此,居民反对意见居多且不说——只因该楼属豆腐渣工程却做了个精品脸面——但要指出的是为了不让老外轻松进入小区观察,特将原本小区向西(朝向鸟巢)一面围墙栅栏的两只门道封锁成仅一只可单人出入之口,居民们如今购买东西需要绕路而行。而此次火灾其关键之点恰恰涉及到了因为栅栏的封锁,导致丧失了消防通道,消防车辆赶来后,也只能停留北辰东路,望洋兴叹。为此,居民已是多有意见,并且因为装饰工程设计奇特,思路怪异,遂引来各国记者频频拍照。着实令小区人民很不开心。

This neighborhood is just a block away from the Bird Nest, and since four years ago when construction of the Bird Nest began, this place has become a hot spot for construction workers to hang out in their free time. Drinking, eating together, making calls at the phone booth, buying their daily necessities. It's been pretty lively for a few years already. These days, as work on the Bird Nest gradually wraps up, fewer construction workers are showing up, and for that reason a number of shops have already closed down, and the few that are left are just barely getting by, anticipating new luck coming soon.

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.

  据现场目击者介绍,大火起自那两只移动铁皮厕所内部。由于装饰工程已近尾声,工人业已退场,两只厕所也只为留守人员所用,为防止他人使用,厕门被工人挂锁。因此里面有什么东西可以见火后如雷炸响便成一谜。消防车队的出现是在报警后约20分钟后,故因当前城市交通不畅,堵车在所难免,但时逢奥运在即,恐难有人会原谅如此应变速度。消防队员亦是辛劳,只见他们由那刚刚封锁起来的铁栅栏上端翻进翻出,拖送水龙(见下图),实乃叫人哭笑不得!
  此次消防队出车两辆,120急救出车一辆,警车两辆,警用摩托车只见穿梭,不计其数。前后折腾约40分钟,大火将灭。
  只因地处敏感地区,大火起时,即有十数老外赶来前后拍照。如此情景,想必令爱国人士看了心痛不已。大火后,人员纷纷撤离,仅剩小区居民依然不去,眼见得刚刚修起的装饰性墙皮被大火熏黑了半边(最末一图),众人话题也只剩下一个——面子工程,实在害人!

According to eyewitnesses at the scene, the large fire started inside the two iron portable toilets there. Because the wall construction has already been completed and the workers have already left the site, the two toilets are only being used by those left to guard the site, and to stop others from using them the toilet doors were bolted shut by the workers. So whatever it was inside that exploded like thunder when it came in contact with fire has become a riddle. Firefighters arrived twenty minutes after it was reported because traffic was heavy at the time and getting stuck in traffic couldn't be avoided, but with the Olympics soon to be here, I'm afraid it's going to be hard for people to forgive this kind of emergency response speed. The fire squad had to struggle, just seeing them jumping back and forth over that newly-locked steel fence, feeding the hose through (see photos), you honestly wouldn't have known whether to laugh or to cry!

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!

10 comments

  • Ben

    If “face” projects are bad, can “faceless” projects be any good?

  • Knights

    I bet the tibetan terrorists led by Dalai were on this.

    [sigh] how can we avoid these kinds of incidents when dalai has a support from U.S., Brittain, Germany, France and Australia? It’s like China against a gang of nations, very sad.

  • karze

    knights:

    Its ghost of gang of four and their mentor Mao who has set fire. Chinese have least blood on their face. Having robbed Tibet they are not satisfied they now want to exterminate Tibetan race.

    How could have Tibetans come their when they can’t move out of their house. Their house are barricaded by PLA with mortors and tanks aimed at them.

    Tibetans are not carnivorous like Chinese.

  • Eric hu

    To Kzrze:

    I have no idea of your senseless comment.

    Obviously, it is not a project of “face”, but a project of “brainwashed” to some people

    Just one question, as far as Tibetans are not carnivorous, which kind of vegetable can be planted on
    frozen earth and feed millions for centuries?

    To John Kennedy:

    When Chinese people are concerned with earthquake, CPI, or flooding in south provinces, your “face” report do remind me something.

    “Political animals” do not sleep!

  • vincerinos

    Tread carefully – that’s some explosive sh*t you’re talking about

  • chan

    karze,
    Let me tell you something…..
    yesterday, China Police have already arrested a culprit who has caused the fire. He was interrogated for his motive of causing the fire. The culprit has told the police about all.

  • Kneecap

    To Eric Hu:

    Remember that while Kzrze`s comments are ludicrous, he was responding to a post by someone claiming Tibetan terrorists (backed by Western governments) were behind the explosions of these outhouses! The original comment was much more laughable.

    And just so you know, humans only began consuming meat 10,000 years ago. We were herbivores prior to that.

  • Jim

    Reminds me of Jim Morrison:

    “I’m gonna get my kicks before the shithouse goes up in flames!!! alright, alright.”

    Probably the work of waidi workers who wanted to have some fun before they get put on the train back to the detention camps in Bengbu.

  • The cave paintings at Lascaux France are dated 15000 to 10000 years. I think it’s safe to say humans were hunting well before they found time and means and desire to paint on cave walls.

  • […] Chinese portable toilets blowing up [via […]

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