TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- With Ghost Month (鬼月) well underway, a fire mysteriously broke out yesterday (Aug. 14) in the Beigang Wude Temple in western Taiwan's Yunlin County, despite the fact that there were no people inside the section where the blaze erupted, reported Liberty Times.
At 10:45 a.m. yesterday morning, flames and smoke suddenly burst started billowing out from the right side temple where the drum and bell towers are situated and a worshiper immediately called the fire department. Temple officials said that when the fire broke out, there were many people praying inside the temple.
One of the worshipers, a man surnamed Chen (陳) noticed that the drum tower was on fire and he quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher to try to snuff out the flames. However, the fire was already too large for him to manage and so he called the fire department.
Once firefighters arrived on the scene, they were able to extinguish the blaze within 10 minutes. After the fire, the drum was found to be badly burned as well as many other items and decoration inside the tower.
Oddly, the temple officials said that during Ghost Month, the drum and bell towers are completely sealed off and there are no electrical wires inside. Given that no one had access to the towers and there was no electrical wiring, Taiwanese media implied that because the drum tower seemed to spontaneously combust during Ghost Month, supernatural forces could be at work.
Meanwhile, fire department officials are investigating the exact cause of the fire.
Taiwan's Ghost Month, observed in the 7th month of the lunar calendar, which this year runs from Aug. 11 to Sept. 9, is when Taoists and Buddhists believe that the gates of hell are opened for "hungry ghosts" to roam the world of the living in search of food, money, entertainment, and possibly souls. A "hungry ghost" is a being that has been sent to the underworld to suffer an eternal state of hunger for their misdeeds or for not having a proper burial.
There are a whole host of taboos associated with Taiwan's Ghost Month, with much of the country in a state of paralysis because many activities such as major purchases, marriages, and even swimming are considered unlucky.