Seoul - Reports from South Korea say a fire on Monday 7 Jan in the basement of a cold-storage facility in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, killed 40 of the 57 workers in the warehouse. Early reports of the blaze ascribe the fire to sparks from welding, which ignited vapours arising from application of polyurethane foam insulation in the warehouse basement.
Seven of the workers who escaped or were rescued are in serious condition.
The fire is reported to have started with an explosion in the machine room on the basement of the warehouse, owned by logistics firm Korea 2000, when the workers were installing electric wiring or pumping Freon gas, a refrigerant for cold-storage facilities.
Reports say that sparks from welders working on cold pipes ignited flammable vapours in the basement, and this fire caused the resulting explosions. Some news stories say the vapour came from application of a 10-cm-thick layer of insulating urethane foam on the inner walls and the ceilings. Later reports say the cause of the fire is unclear.