TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A family of four was killed by a fire that engulfed in their home on Yangping Road in Taipei in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to the Taipei City Government Fire Department.
After attending a Halloween party on Saturday evening and returning home to turning in for bed, a massive fire suddenly broke out at around 3:00 a.m. on the third floor of their building, trapping them in their fourth floor apartment. Neighbors who heard their cries for help for until about a minute before the fire department arrived, and then they went silent.
The Taipei Fire Department said that after receiving a call about the fire at 3:16 a.m., they dispatched 34 fire trucks and ambulances and 90 rescuers, who arrived at the scene at 3:22 a.m. When rescue crews arrived, the entire 3rd and 4th floors were completely engulfed in flames and it took firefighters until 4:46 a.m. before they were able to extinguish the blaze.
When the firefighters were able to enter the 4th floor apartment, they found the charred remains of the husband still clinging to the bedroom window, while his family members were laying by his side, burned beyond recognition.
The family members included the husband and oil company manager Lai Chia-hung (賴珈宏), 43, wife Yang Hsin-i (楊馨怡), 36, son 賴威佑 (Lai Wei-yu), 7, and daughter Lai Ting-an (賴亭安), 5.
The fire department said that the apartment did not have smoke alarms, the interior was made of wood paneling, providing ample fuel for the fire, and the security bars blocked them from escaping from the windows. The Lai family had converted the stairway into an "interior stairway," and thus the only exit was the main door of the third floor apartment.
According to fire department officials, when the fire broke out smoke quickly filled the stairwell, and though the balcony in theory had two windows from which they could have escaped, one was locked and the other was blocked with debris. The other windows were blocked with security bars.
The owner of the third floor apartment, which was being used for storage, told police that the only items that used electricity in the living room where the fire broke out were an altar and a heating lamp for pet tortoises. The fire department suspects an extension cord connected to one of these may have cause the fire.