(ATTN: UPDATES with details from 6th para; ADDS photos)
ICHEON, South Korea, June 18 (Yonhap) — A fire at a Coupang Inc. distribution center continued to burn Friday, more than a day after it broke out, with one firefighter trapped inside, officials said.
The fire began in the basement of the e-commerce giant’s four-story building in Icheon, about 80 kilometers south of Seoul, around 5:20 a.m. Thursday. Authorities said it appeared to have been caused by a spark from a power outlet.
A 52-year-old firefighter who entered the basement Thursday morning to look for people left behind has yet to emerge from the building.
“We will resume our search as soon as it becomes possible to enter the building,” a fire official said. “We don’t know for now when the flames will die down.”
The fire has spread from the basement to the entire building and begun to reveal its frame.
Firefighters said they are using water cannons to put out the fire from outside instead of entering the building out of concern it could soon collapse. The second floor has already begun to buckle.
Six fire engines have been parked between the building and an adjacent distribution center belonging to a different company in case the flames leap across.
The Coupang building reportedly contains a large amount of flammable packing material, including papers, boxes, plastics and stickers.
It handles deliveries to all parts of the country and the fire will likely cause delays.
“We’re trying to minimize any inconvenience to customers by distributing deliveries to other centers,” a Coupang official said.
A safety inspection of the building is also under way.
“Some firefighters have said the sprinklers were activated, but it’s such an old facility that it’s possible not all of them worked,” a fire official said. “We’ll be able to find out the details through an inspection.”