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3 die in house fire in northern Taiwan on Lunar New Year's day

Elderly Taiwanese man and Indonesian couple trapped in Taoyuan apartment fire

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A fire began in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment in Taoyuan's Dayuan District, Feb. 10. 

A fire began in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment in Taoyuan's Dayuan District, Feb. 10.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A fire at an apartment in Taoyuan's Dayuan District claimed the lives of three people on Saturday (Feb. 10).

The fire was reported to the Taoyuan Fire Department shortly after 4 p.m. on Saturday, reported UDN. The fire likely started in a kitchen on the second floor of the building, as renters were making preparations for the New Year’s Day dinner.

Reports indicated that neighbors were alerted to the fire by an explosion as the fire spread from the second floor to the first and third floors of the building. A foreign woman surnamed Chiu (邱), who was renting the second floor of the apartment, was able to escape, per UDN.

A total of 55 rescue personnel were dispatched to the scene, and they were able to put out the fire in about 20 minutes.

After getting the fire under control, firefighters rushed in to search for survivors. Three people were discovered on the staircase on the third floor. One had suffered serious burns and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The two others showed no signs of life but were rushed to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment. Unfortunately, doctors were unable to revive them and the two were pronounced dead around 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Chiu was taken for questioning by officers following the fire.

The owner of the property reportedly told authorities that Chiu was from Indonesia and had been living in the apartment with her Taiwanese husband, surnamed Lin (林), for at least 20 years. Local officials also identified the other two victims as an elderly couple from Indonesia who were renting the third floor of the apartment space, reported UDN.

The landlord told authorities that the couple living on the second floor was responsible for a small fire last year, caused by an overheated electric stove.