18 Oct Officials look for cause of Taiwan blaze
Taiwanese officials have set up an independent commission to investigate a run-down building in the port of Kaohsiung – where last week a fire killed 46 people.
Authorities have been scouring the building’s ruins to try to determine the cause of the fatal fire, which broke out last Thursday. Many of the victims were elderly or sick residents who found themselves unable to escape from the 13-storey building.
Kaohsiung’s city administration confirmed that inspectors had not been able to access the premises recently to check that the building was following required fire codes. When inspectors tried to gain access the doors were always locked and it was impossible to coordinate inspection visits with the property’s owners. Authorities will now try to ascertain whether negligence played a part in the tragedy.
It is though that just last month fire extinguishers had been installed in the building, however due to costs there were only three per floor.
The lower floors of the building housed a commercial area with restaurants, karaoke bar and movie theatre – most already shut down permanently prior to the fire. Above were around 120 housing units.
The fire broke out at around 3am on Thursday morning within the lower part of the building. Fire fighters battled until 7am to ensure the flames were fully extinguished.
The authorities are now questioning a number of residents and also exploring the possibility of a fire igniting from the electrical system.