TAIWAN APARTMENT FIRE

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Claire Stinger, Editor

Around 3 A.M on October 13, 2021, a high rise thirteen story apartment complex in southern Taiwan, in the city of Kaohsiung, caught fire. The cause of this mysterious fire is still under investigation, but is believed to have originated on the first floor based on security footage provided by a surrounding building. CBS News stated that locals heard an explosion before the fire began as well. However, the cause of the fire is believed by some to have been linked to the hazardous conditions in the building. The New York Times reported that “recent photos and videos showed what appeared to be alarming safety conditions inside the building, including exposed electricity cables, corroded water pipes and heaps of debris obstructing dark stairwells.”

Prosecutors set up a task force to investigate the fire, and find the cause. As of October 15, 2021, they have not ruled out arson as they have reason to  believe it could have been. An incense burner, lying on the floor in a room located on the first floor, where the fires began. The suspect, Kuo, a male in his fifties, and Huang, his fifty-one year old girlfriend, are denying the blaze being set intentionally. According to an anonymous interview with Focus Taiwan, “Kuo left the shop possibly after a quarrel with Huang, followed shortly thereafter by the other man,” who they suspected to be drinking with in the room they believe the fire originated from.

The majority of the people who called this complex home were elderly people, disabled people, and low income families, which ultimately led to some concerns. The main concern of many was the elderly people who primarily lived between the seventh and eleventh floors. Mr. Lin, a fifty-seven year old local, expressed in an interview with the New York Times that “he was worried that some of the older residents living on the higher floors would have had a hard time evacuating in the dark.” Of the inhabitants, there have been  forty-six reported casualties and at least forty-one left injured. 

Even after the sun began to rise, dozens of firefighters from surrounding areas could still be seen spraying the remaining flames, mainly in the middle floors of the building. The rescue missions continued into the morning as well, with the remaining 377 rescue workers searching the charred remains for any trapped survivors. The building, full of debris and rubble, did not meet the fire safety standards, making the search efforts more difficult as time continued.