2008-07-18 16:08:51 GMT 2008-07-19 00:08:51 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
SHIJIAZHUANG, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The furniture market fire that killed nine people and injured another on Monday in north China's Hebei Province was caused by an explosion when a store owner was trying to make explosive.
The blaze broke out at about 10 a.m. at the three-story Sunshine Furniture Market in Quyang County, about 200 km southwest of Beijing, said a provincial public security department spokesman on Friday.
The dead, aged 19 to 40, included seven females and two males. They were all locals of Quyang and store employees. An injured man was still receiving treatment in hospital.
According to a police investigation, the store owner, a woman surnamed Chen, decided to make explosives in the market's back lotto earn money. She hired seven people on Sunday night, paying each100 yuan (about 14.3 U.S. dollars) a day.
At 7 a.m. Monday, they began making explosive in a shed. At 9:56 a.m., it caught fire after chemicals ignited the explosive.
Police said the shop was owned by Chen and her brother. The two fled after the blaze. Police were now searching for them.