Two people under investigation for Kaohsiung building fire

Two people are being investigated as suspects in a building fire in Kaohsiung that claimed 46 lives and injured dozens of others, according to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office.

The fire in the Cheng Chung Cheng (???) building on Fubei Road in the city’s Yancheng District in the early hours of Thursday morning is the second deadliest building fire in Taiwan after the blaze at Weierkang Club in Taichung that killed 64 people in February 1995.

At least 46 residents of the building, most of whom were seniors, died in the blaze, the latest tally shows.

In a statement issued Friday morning, the prosecutors office said two people who “are suspected of being involved in the fire” are being probed after investigators collected evidence on site, examined security footage and obtained witness accounts.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Kaohsiung police chief Huang Ming-chao (???) said the authorities have not ruled out the possibility that the fire was the result of arson.

Meanwhile, a source involved in the probe told CNA that evidence gathered so far points to the starting point of the fire being a small room at the back of a shop selling teaware on the building’s ground floor.

The two people identified by the prosecutors are a man surnamed Kuo (?) in his 50s and his 51-year-old girlfriend surnamed Huang (?), both of whom often used the small room, said the source, who requested anonymity due to the ongoing investigation.

According to the source, the couple do not own the shop, but he did not explain why they had access to the room.

On Wednesday evening, Kuo and Huang were drinking alcohol with another man in the small room, the source said.

Kuo later left the shop possibly after a quarrel with Huang, followed shortly thereafter by the other man, the source said.

Huang was the last person to leave the shop and shortly after her departure the fire started, the source added.

Investigators found a burnt-out censer and tin can in the room, but it remains unclear if the two objects are connected to the cause of the fire, according to the source.

The couple have denied setting the fire on purpose, the source said.

They were questioned a second time by prosecutors on Friday morning.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel