TAIPEI (CNA) — A big fire raged through two four-floor apartment buildings in Wanhua District of Taipei early Saturday morning, killing four people and leaving another person in critical condition, according to the Taipei City Fire Department.
Shortly after the fire erupted on the second floor of one of the buildings around 6:40 a.m., the fire department dispatched 22 fire trucks, 2 aerial ladder trucks and 13 ambulances to the scene on Huaxi Street in Wanhua District.
The street, near the famous Longshan Temple, is an old neighborhood in Taiwan with many decades-old buildings.
The fire quickly spread to the first, third and fourth floors of the two apartment buildings and a total of 104 firefighters and medical staffers rushed to rescue nine people engulfed in the blaze and smoke, Huang Chien-hua (黃建華), a section chief of the fire department, told reporters.
Of the nine people rescued, Huang said, four of them died, including a 70-year-old woman. The other three people killed were all men, according to the fire department.
One of the five survivors rescued was in critical condition, Huang said. Another person’s heartbeat and breathing resumed after first aid efforts and the remaining three, two women and one man, suffered only minor injuries, he said.
In addition, firefighters also evacuated six other people from the buildings, Huang told reporters.
He said the rescue team were able to extinguish the fire at 7:30 a.m.
According to the fire department, the first and second floors of the apartment buildings accommodated a small restaurant and the third and fourth floors were rented out.
Huang said when the fire started on the second floor of the apartments, no one was in the restaurant on the first and second floors, but with the fire quickly reaching the third and fourth floors, tenants were affected in the rented space, which was divided into 16-20 rooms.
He said further investigations are needed to find the cause of the fire and assess the property damage suffered.
According to a preliminary investigation by the fire department, the fire was likely ignited by sparks from electrical wires on the second floor of one of the apartment buildings.