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Three men arrested for suspected arson after Zhongli hypermarket fire

12/03/2023 06:21 PM
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Firefighters move into the smoky fire site of a hypermarket in Taoyuan's Zhongli District early Sunday. Photo courtesy of Taoyuan City Fire Department Dec. 3, 2023
Firefighters move into the smoky fire site of a hypermarket in Taoyuan's Zhongli District early Sunday. Photo courtesy of Taoyuan City Fire Department Dec. 3, 2023

Taipei, Dec. 3 (CNA) A fire at a hypermarket in Zhongli District in Taoyuan early Sunday may have been caused by three men who have been arrested on suspicion of using insect spray to ignite a blaze in one of the aisles, according to city police.

The fire started in the predawn hours in the basement level of the 24-hour hypermarket, which has three floors above ground and three underground, firefighters told the media.

When the city's Zhongli fire station received the report at 3:59 a.m., firefighters rushed to the building on Chunghua Road, where the hypermarket management had already evacuated about 20 customers and 10 staff members, police said.

The blaze was brought under control about four hours later, and no casualties were reported, according to firefighters.

Police officer Kan Bo-lun (甘博倫) with the Zhongli Precinct told reporters that based on an initial investigation, the fire is believed to have been started deliberately by three men in the basement level of the hypermarket.

Police escorts the three suspects (in helmet) to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office after questioning them for the investigation into the fire on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Taoyuan City Fire Department Dec. 3, 2023
Police escorts the three suspects (in helmet) to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office after questioning them for the investigation into the fire on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Taoyuan City Fire Department Dec. 3, 2023

It appears that one of the men, egged on by his two companions, used a lighter and a can of insect spray to start the fire in the cleaning supplies aisle of the hypermarket, Kan said.

The three men have been arrested on suspicion of arson, and the case has been handed over to the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office for further investigation, according to police.

Meanwhile, the hypermarket has been closed temporarily, the management said, adding that customers can go nearby branches to shop.

(By Wu Jui-chi and Evelyn Kao)

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