Fire in central Taiwan quarantine hotel leaves 4 people dead
Taipei, July 1 (CNA) A fire that broke out at a quarantine hotel in central Taiwan's Changhua City late Wednesday resulted in the death of four people, including three in quarantine and a firefighter, while injuring 20 others, according to the Changhua County Fire Bureau.
The bureau said it received a report of the fire at 7:52 p.m. and mobilized 58 vehicles and 166 firefighters to deal with the blaze that occurred on a 15-floor building.
The quarantine hotel, called the "Passion Fruit Hotel," was located on floors 7 to 9, and firefighters were able to evacuate the 31 people trapped in the building at around 3:50 a.m. the following morning.
Three of the guests who were evacuated died of injuries sustained during the fire.
Two firefighters were hurt during the rescue, and one died of his injuries early Thursday morning at a local hospital.
According to the Changhua County government, 29 of the guests at the hotel had been undergoing quarantine while two were staffers.
The incident has left 20 people injured who are now being treated at hospitals.
The fire bureau said the blaze broke out on the second floor of the building and quickly spread to the floors above it.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but the bureau stressed that further investigations will follow.
Tsai Chin-feng (蔡進峰), the hotel operator, said the second and third floors were vacant and contained old carpets used by the previous owners who ran an entertainment business in the building.
According to the Changhua government, the building was established in 1993 and had once been used as a shopping center and a video arcade, but later became dormant due to a number of fire hazards that occurred at the site in recent years.
Tsai added that he renovated the 7th to 9th floors two years ago and operated it as a hotel with 74 rooms, and recently began using it as a quarantine facility during the pandemic.
The hotel operator said he only became aware of the fire when the fire alarm at the hotel began to sound. He said he had instructed his staffers to check every floor, while telling guests to stay in their rooms until firefighters arrived to the rescue.
Tsai said he went outside to check and noticed the fire had come from the building's second floor.
He said he was able to assist some guests to escape from the emergency stairs which had already been filled with heavy smoke.
According to the Changhua fire bureau, the firefighter who died Thursday was identified as 33-year old Chen Chih-fan (陳志帆), who was among the first to enter the burning building.
He was found missing after the evacuation and firefighters who returned to look for him discovered Chen unconscious in a bathroom at one of the hotel rooms on the 9th floor, the bureau said.
Chen was later pronounced dead by a local hospital, while the other injured firefighter is currently in stable condition.
On Thursday, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the hotel guests are now being cared for at hospitals.
Responding to journalists' questions, Chuang said guests under quarantine who left their rooms would not be fined for violating quarantine regulations as they were just responding to the situation that involved a matter of life and death.
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