Taipei, Oct. 14 (CNA) A fire that broke out in a commercial and residential building in Kaohsiung early Thursday has claimed 46 lives and left 41 people injured, the city’s fire department said later in the day.
The fire broke out at around 3 a.m. on the first floor of the 13-story building in the city’s Yancheng District and rose to the sixth floor, filling the seventh floor and above with smoke, which caused most casualties, Kaohsiung Fire Bureau chief Lee Ching-hsiu (李清秀) said.
According to the bureau, the victims who died in the blaze averaged 62 years old.
It was the deadliest fire disaster in city’s history.
When the fire started in the early hours on Thursday, people were already in bed, hence the high death toll, not to mention that many of the residents in the building were senior citizens who suffered from dementia or physical disabilities, Lee said.
Another factor was that residents likely had a tough time escaping from the fire because the building’s staircase was filled with all manner of objects accumulated over many years, he added.
Also, the bottom few floors were built with high ceilings and had glass fronts, which caused the heat to rise up rapidly, the official said.
As of 4:40 p.m. Thursday, 46 deaths and 41 injuries had been recorded, most of them from smoke inhalation, Lee said, adding that the blaze was put out at 7:17 a.m.
Four witnesses have been summoned by the police, in the investigation into the cause of the fire, he said.