Taiwanese authorities announced on Friday that an apartment block fire which killed 46 people started because a female resident forgot to extinguish incense, resulting in a devastating blaze that gutted the 13-story building.
The raging fire in the southern city of Kaohsiung on October 15 took hours to bring under control, as firefighters battled the blaze in the apartment block. It proved to be one of Taiwan’s deadliest fires in decades.
The female tenant, named only as Huang, her family name, has already been arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide and jeopardizing public safety, with the city government declaring that she is “apparently at fault.”
“She failed to make sure that the incense was completely extinguished before leaving the building to let the incense keep on burning, which then led to the fire,” a report into the blaze by city officials stated.
Authorities have not yet decided whether to formally charge Huang, and are continuing to question her over the situation. According to prosecutors, she has offered inconsistent statements on the incident, first claiming she threw the incense into the rubbish and later saying she couldn’t remember what happened.
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The apartment block, which was already partially rundown, was mainly home to low-income elderly individuals, with the fire spreading fast due to debris and rubbish strewn in abandoned parts of the building.
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