Fire at Coal Firm Office in China Kills at Least 26

At least 26 people were killed and 38 others were hospitalized when a fire broke out in a coal company’s office building in a provincial city southwest of Beijing on Thursday, China’s state-run news media reported.

The fire began around 7 a.m. in the offices of Yongju Coal Company in Lüliang, a city in the northern province of Shanxi, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The building is four stories high. The fire, which broke out on the second floor, was extinguished by 3 p.m., according to the broadcaster China Central Television.

Few other details were immediately available. The Chinese authorities did not speculate about a possible cause. Some state-run news outlets reported that it had broken out in a building where employees shower and do laundry.

Last November, a fire in a two-story factory in the central province of Henan killed at least 38 people.

A few days later, a fire in an apartment building in the far western region of Xinjiang killed at least 10 others. Many people suspected that a Covid lockdown had hampered rescue efforts or trapped victims inside their homes, and their anger set off protests in cities across China over the government’s Covid policies.

Lüliang, the city where the fire broke out on Thursday, sits in a mountainous corner of northern China where rich deposits of coal fueled a nationwide economic boom that began in the late 20th Century.

In 2014, after China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, came to power and began a nationwide crackdown on corruption, Lüliang earned a national profile for something else: being the site of some of the most sweeping political and economic purges in recent Chinese history.