More than 20 families will be forced to spend the Spring Festival in hotels or with relatives after a fire tore through their homes in Shanghai's Yangpu District yesterday.
Three properties at the Renchangli estate on Jiangpu Road were severely damaged, while four others were also affected when the blaze caught hold about 11:30am, firefighters said.
No one was injured and the fire had been brought under control by about 1:30pm, they said, adding that the cause has yet to be determined.
About 200 families live in the dilapidated 85-year-old complex, and the inferno came as no surprise to one resident surnamed Fu.
"It was only a matter of time before something like this happened. All of the electrical wiring is really old and much of it exposed," he told Shanghai Daily.
"The local government gave out fire extinguishers and alarms several years ago, but the threat of a fire has been like a shadow over people's heads."
Fu said his parents' home was one of the four affected by the blaze, but added that they were not in the property at the time.
Another resident, surnamed Wang, said he saw a family that lived in one of the badly damaged properties racing to escape the flames.
"The people who live at No. 20, four of them, came running out into the street in their bare feet after the fire spread from No. 22," he said.
He agreed with Fu about the poor quality of the wiring.
"I had mine replaced," he said. "But it only takes a spark in one property and then any number can go up."
Several other residents of Renchangli said that even before yesterday's fire they had been told by the government that they would be found new homes, though no time frame has been set.