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New Taipei teen sets fire to apartment, locks family on balcony over video games

16-year-old starts fire after parents try to restrict time spent playing mobile games, watching TV

Fire Department ladder truck. (New Taipei City Fire Department photo)

Fire Department ladder truck. (New Taipei City Fire Department photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A teenager on Monday (Sept. 27) allegedly set his apartment on fire and locked his family out on the balcony after arguing with his parents over the amount of time he spends playing video games and watching TV.

At around 3 a.m. on Monday, a fire alarm went off in an apartment on Xuecheng Road in New Taipei City's Sanxia District. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found that a residence on the sixth floor of a 14-story apartment tower was ablaze, reported SET News.

Firefighters soon noticed that a 47-year-old man surnamed Ko (柯), his 47-year-old wife, and their 12 and 14-year-old sons were trapped on the apartment's balcony. Firefighters quickly deployed a ladder truck to bring them to safety.

The family members told investigators that they had not been able to flee their home because they were unable to open the front door. When firefighters inspected the door, they discovered that a broken key was lodged in the lock

The source of the blaze was found in the bedroom of the couple's other son, who is 16. However, the boy was nowhere to be seen.

New Taipei teen sets fire to apartment, locks family on balcony over video games
(New Taipei City Fire Department photo)

Investigators found that fires had been started in multiple locations inside the home. After reviewing surveillance camera footage, police learned that the boy had fled the building at 3:02 a.m., just minutes before the fire began.

He left his mobile phone and many other belongings behind, and officers began to suspect that the boy had deliberately set the fire. After tracking his movements for several hours, police located him at 8 a.m. that morning inside a convenience store at the Yingge railway station.

The boy soon confessed that he had indeed started the fire on purpose. According to the investigation, the boy had engaged in an argument with his parents over limiting the time he spends on mobile phone games and TV.

He admitted that out of anger, he lit candles, burned the legs of the table in the study, walked to the entrance to burn the shoe cabinet, and then walked into his younger brother's bedroom to light another fire, reported ETtoday. He then intentionally locked the door from the outside and broke off the key before fleeing the scene.

After questioning, he was transferred to the Prosecutor's Office to be investigated under the Juvenile Incident Handling Law for offenses against public safety (公共危險罪) and attempted homicide (殺人未遂).

Updated : 2022-01-18 12:48 GMT+08:00