Four family members perish in fire, trapped by burglar bars

Four people died in a three-storey family residence after being unable to escape a fire that broke out on the first floor this morning in Pingtung County.

Firefighters rushed to the scene of the fire after receiving reports of a residential fire in Neipu Township at around 5:40am.

Firefighters used saws to cut through the first floor garage door to gain entry to the house, while ladders were used to rescue two girls from the third floor at the rear of the house after cutting through burglar bars.

Firefighters employ ladders to rescue girls from third floor
Firefighters employ ladders to rescue girls from third floor. Picture: Pingtung County Fire Bureau.

The fire was extinguished within 10 minutes at around 6:00am, but four people were found dead, suspected of having succumbed to smoke inhalation.

A preliminary investigation by firefighters found that there was only one exit via the front door on the first floor. The 14 windows and two balconies of the residence had been sealed with burglar bars which could not be opened. On the fourth floor roof, a sheet-steel addition also prevented escape.

The deceased were the registered owner of the house, Mr Lee, 46, his mother, 72, father, 78, and 10-year-old daughter. Mr Lee and his daughter were found on the 4th floor, while Lee’s mother was found in a second floor bathroom. Mr Lee senior was found on the staircase between the first and second floors.

Two of Mr Lee’s daughters, aged 9 and 14, were sent to hospital having suffered smoke inhalation injuries. The girls’ mother was away visiting family at the time of the fire.

Neighbors said that the Lee family had lost valuables in a burglary some years ago, and had then installed burglar bars for security.

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