The 40-year-old Chengzhongcheng building previously housed a department store and movie theater. Its seventh to 11th floors are currently inexpensive rental units with tenants that are disadvantaged or senior citizens living alone. This is the building's second fire.
Because of the amount of rubbish being stored in public areas and complex inner workings, it took firefighters five hours to put out the fire at this Yancheng District building. Firefighters spent some time searching the building floor by floor from the seventh floor up. Some residents were trapped in their homes for seven hours and didn't make it out until 9 a.m.
Trapped Resident："I was on a higher floor. The fire started on a lower floor. (So you didn't make it out until just now, is that right?) Yes. I was rescued by the fire truck ladder."
Lee Ching-hsiu, Commissioner, Kaohsiung City Fire Bureau："Some of the residents were trapped behind closed or locked doors. We had to break down some of the doors to search inside. There might be more OHCA residents."
The 40-year-old Chengzhongcheng building previously housed a department store and movie theater. Its seventh to 11th floors are currently inexpensive rental units, while the first floor houses a secondhand electronics store. Police estimate the building has 208 residential units with 120 residents. As the units are mostly low-rent -- some not even having water or electricity -- the majority of tenants are disadvantaged or senior citizens living alone.
Area Resident："It's unclear who the owners are. The building has been around for a long time and most of the units are studios."
Voice of Area Resident："It's really old. (It's really old, like a few decades old). There was another fire previously, and now it's happened again."
Efforts to renovate or rebuild the building have not been successful due to unclear ownership. This was the building's second fire. Witnesses say there was a couple arguing and smoking outside the building shortly before an explosion was heard.
Lin Chuan-fu, Beili Borough Chief："(Someone reported hearing) an argument or something like that in the middle of the night."
Meanwhile, social welfare and household registration workers are helping to resettle residents
鄰近住戶表示：「很久了！ (已經很久了，幾十年了。) 之前也燒過，現在又再燒了。」