Investigation launched into Taichung factory fire that killed two
Taipei, Oct. 3 (CNA) More details emerged on Thursday concerning an early morning factory fire that broke out in the Daya District of Taichung, claiming the lives of two firefighters.
According to a preliminary report by the city's Fire Bureau, the rapid spread of the fire caused the sheet metal structure to collapse, crushing the two firefighters and trapping them inside the building.
A firefighter with knowledge of the event said the factory, which produced paper products, was divided into two adjacent buildings, one of which housed a production line and the other which served as storage and office space.
When first responders arrived at the scene, the production line was already engulfed in flames, from which area the fire likely spread to the adjacent storage facilities.
After entering and discovering no smoke on the building's first floor, the firefighters proceeded to the second floor, where they lost contact with crew members outside, the firefighter said.
Taichung City Government announced Thursday that the address where the fire occurred had been listed as an illegal structure and was slated for destruction.
However, Taichung city and county records showed a backlog of 87,904 illegal structures, as of the end of September this year.
Also on Tuesday afternoon, Taichung District Prosecutors' Office summoned the owner of the factory, surnamed Chen (陳), as well as witnesses from the fire bureau, to begin its investigation into liability for the fire.
The Taichung City Fire Bureau also provided additional details on Hsieh Chih-hsiung (謝志雄), 33, and Chang Che-chia (張哲嘉), 32, the two victims of the blaze.
Hsieh had been at the bureau for seven years, and frequently conducted search and rescue training courses for local firefighters, who remembered him as an earnest and patient instructor.
He leaves behind a wife, who works as a police officer in the Taichung area and is currently pregnant with twins, as well as a 2-year-old son.
Chang had more than 10 years' experience at the bureau, where he was a certified EMT and served as a trainer for volunteer firefighters.
In addition to his longtime girlfriend, Chang's brother, who is also a Taichung firefighter, rushed to the scene of the fire on Thursday.
(Hsieh Chih-hsiung; photo from Hsieh's Facebook page)
(Chang Che-chia; photo from Chang's Facebook page)
In response to the tragedy, citizen groups including The National Association for Firefighters' Rights, The Environmental Rights Foundation, and Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan, held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, where they pressed the government on urgent reforms to the Fire Services Act, including guaranteeing transparent investigations of firefighter deaths and giving firefighters the right to withdraw from situations of extreme danger.
In light of the urgency of the reforms, the groups announced that they would organize protests in the absence of a meaningful response to their demands by Oct. 5.
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