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Man in south Taiwan arrested for series of furniture fires

Suspect allegedly sets fire to piles of discarded furniture for 'obstructing traffic'

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Firefighters put out one of three fires started by burning discarded furniture left on the street.

Firefighters put out one of three fires started by burning discarded furniture left on the street. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After three fires were reported in Kaohsiung within the span of an hour on Sunday evening (Jan. 16), the police arrested a man who had allegedly set fire to discarded furniture on the street.

As the Lunar New Year approaches, locals have left old furniture on the street to be picked up. The Kaohsiung City Police Department's Linyuan Precinct received reports of fires at 6:57 p.m., 7:39 p.m., and 7:48 p.m., CNA reported.

Police officers rushed to control traffic while firefighters worked to put out the fires and rescue people. The first two fires were put out quickly and resulted in no casualties.

The third fire spread to the first floor of a nearby building, damaging a washing machine and scooter and trapping four men and one woman on the roof. They were rescued by firefighters and were unharmed, and the fire was put out at 8:02 p.m.

According to the police, a witness said a man wearing a white helmet and riding a scooter had set fire to a newspaper before throwing it on a pile of furniture and riding away. After going through surveillance camera footage, the police tracked down a 37-year-old man surnamed Chen (陳) and arrested him at his home at 8:20 p.m.

Chen originally denied the allegations but confessed after seeing the police’s evidence, claiming that he had burned the discarded furniture because it was obstructing traffic, per CNA. The police charged him with arson.