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Kaohsiung woman sentenced over house fire started by her cat

05/28/2024 06:37 PM
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Unsplash image for illustrative purposes only
Unsplash image for illustrative purposes only

Taipei, May 28 (CNA) A Kaohsiung woman has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, commutable to a fine, for offenses against public safety stemming from a kitchen fire that broke out when her pet cat turned on an induction stove.

According to the Kaohsiung District Court, the 24-year-old defendant, surnamed Chen (陳), and her 27-year-old roommate and friend, surnamed Hung (洪), took a trip to northern Taiwan on Jan. 6, 2023, leaving their four cats at their apartment in Kaohsiung's Sanmin District.

On Jan. 8, a fire broke out in the apartment, burning the area around their induction stove before triggering the building's sprinkler system, which extinguished the blaze.

A subsequent investigation by the Kaohsiung Fire Department concluded that one of the cats had started the fire, likely by pushing an iron wire mesh from the counter onto the range, and then touching the stove's power button to turn it on.

The iron wire mesh heated up on the stove, and then ignited other nearby items on the counter, the fire department said.

In its verdict, the court said Chen's negligence had made it possible for the fire to start, and in turn endangered other residents of the building. If it had not been for the building's automatic sprinklers, there could have been extensive damage, and even injuries or deaths from the fire, it said.

Hung, who was also indicted in the case, is being tried separately.

The verdict can be appealed.

(By Hung Hsueh-kuang and Matthew Mazzetta)


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