TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A disorderly evacuation and traffic accident caused chaos after a residential building in downtown Taichung caught ablaze at around noon on Sunday (Sept. 12).
Over 700 people were evacuated from the 18-story building, located at the intersection of Jinhua North Road and Xueshi Road, though a husband and wife remained trapped on the third floor, and five people were stranded on the top of the building while fighters battled the inferno, according to a Formosa News report.
A plume of smoke billowed from the third story of the building. It did not take long for the thick black fumes to engulf the entire edifice, as fire burst out from the windows, per reports.
There were scenes of desperation, with some evacuees making for the exits with babies in arms, while others pushed the elderly in wheelchairs down the stairs as panic set in. Some children ran down to the street only partially clothed, say the reports.
Five firefighting teams were dispatched to the scene, but with torrential rain from Typhoon Chanthu, adverse road conditions caused a fire brigade to collide with a scooter.
Emergency services then had to split their efforts to fight the fire on one side of the road and handle the clean-up from the motor accident on the other, calling an ambulance to whisk the injured to a nearby hospital.
Shen Chien-min (沈建民), vice captain the eighth squadron of Taichung’s firefighting department, said the couple trapped on the third floor had to be rescued after the fire was put out, while the five on the top floor were told to sit tight.”
The firefighters finally managed to get the flames, which had a burn area of 20 square meters, under control. Investigations are ongoing into what caused the blaze and how much damages will cost.