Korean Firefighter Killed Battling Warehouse Blaze

A firefighter was killed while trying to extinguish a fire at a warehouse in Incheon, Saturday.

A memorial altar for firefighter Kim Young-soo, who was killed while on duty, Friday, is set up at Inha University Hospital in Incheon, Sunday. YonhapLieutenant Kim Young-soo was one of more than 100 firemen mobilized at 7:16 p.m. Friday. The fire was put out in 15 minutes.

About two hours after the operation, it was discovered that Kim was unaccounted for, prompting an immediate search that lasted for five hours. His corpse was later found in the second basement floor at about 2:52 a.m.

'The second basement floor was large and the smoke was very thick. He had an oxygen tank with which he could breathe for 40 minutes but we think Kim was unable to find the exit due to the maze-like structure of the warehouse and in the process suffocated to death,' an officer at Incheon Bupyeong Fire Station said.

The 54-year-old veteran firefighter joined the service in 1988. His colleagues described him as a charitable man with an affable spirit both on- and off-duty. He volunteered regularly, assisting elderly people living alone and made financial donations to social projects.

'He visited orphanages and welfare centers for the elderly on his weekends off. He also donated money to a scholarship foundation in the region,' a colleague said.

Kim had lived with his elderly mother, taking care of her until she passed away last year. He was also married in May last year. A devout Christian, Kim had been planning an overseas pilgrimage with his wife, according to his associates.

The firefighting authorities promoted him to captain posthumously and offered a government order of merit to the bereaved family on his behalf.

They plan to have him buried at the national cemetery after discussing the issue with the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

Kim's funeral will be held at the fire station at 9 a.m. Monday.

Copyright 2012 The Korea Times. All Rights Reserved

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