TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Police are investigating the possibility of arson as the cause of a fire that began near a four-faced Buddha statue in Taipei City Saturday morning (Dec. 7).
The blaze destroyed three businesses — a shop selling Buddhist objects, including the statue, a furniture store, and an interior decoration business — as well as 11 motorbikes parked nearby, CNA reported.
The fire erupted on the first floor of a 12-story building on Linsen North Road after 8 a.m., leading to the evacuation of 500 people, with four being transferred to a hospital. All four remained conscious, however, and showed no sign of injury.
Due to the scale of the blaze, emergency services sent out 107 firefighters, 35 fire trucks, and seven ambulances, according to CNA. Their work was completed at around 9:20 a.m.
Residents living nearby told police of their suspicions that arson had been involved. The investigation started with police reviewing footage from nearby surveillance cameras and interviewing staff at the shops hit by the blaze, Liberty Times reported.
Later reports said a man wearing a pink plastic raincoat and a motorcycle helmet had been seen cordoning off the site of the Buddha and running away shortly before the fire erupted.