TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Four family members perished in a fire on Thursday morning (Nov. 14) because they were unable to escape due to the extensive burglar bars installed on their home, while two children on the illegally built third floor were rescued when firefighters were able to break through the bars in time.
At 5:40 a.m. on Thursday morning, the Pingtung Country Fire Bureau received a report of a fire in a three-story house on Funing Road in Neipu Township. When firefighters arrived on the scene at 5:51 a.m., they saw smoke billowing out of the first floor and could hear the screams of two children trapped on the third floor, which had been illegally constructed with sheet metal, reported UDN.
Firefighters found that the two girls, aged 11 and 14, were trapped behind the burglar bars of a window. The firemen raised a ladder to the third floor, cut through the burglar bars, and successfully brought the girls to safety, reported CNA.
Firefighters use ladders to rescue girls. (Pingtung County Fire Bureau photo)
However, the children's father, a 46-year-old man surnamed Lee (李), his 78-year-old father, 73-year-old mother, and 9-year-old daughter all perished. After fire crews extinguished the blaze at 6:04 a.m., they found the bodies of the elderly couple on the first floor.
They then found Lee and his daughter in the second-floor bathroom, neither of whom had any vital signs. The 9-year-old daughter had suffered fourth-degree burns on over 90 percent of her body, reported Yahoo News.
Lee's 11-year-old and 14-year-old daughters survived the fire with only minor smoke inhalation injuries. Lee's wife and mother of their children happened to be at her mother's home at the time of the fire and escaped injury.
Aftermath of fire. (Pingtung County Fire Bureau photo)
Neipu Township police said that as the fire started on the first floor and many of the windows were covered with burglar bars, it was very difficult for anyone to escape from the blaze, reported UDN. Neighbors said that the family had just purchased a new TV the night before the fire.
Early the next morning, neighbors said they had heard an explosion before smoke started spewing out of the home. Firefighters are currently investigating the cause of the fire.
Much of the home can be seen covered with burglar bars. (Pingtung County Fire Department photo)