Thu, Jan 22, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Probes open into Tuesday’s blaze

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Judiciary agencies have initiated separate probes into the deaths of six firefighters in Tuesday’s blaze at a bowling alley in Greater Taoyuan’s Sinwu District (新屋).

An investigation unit from the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office headed to local government offices yesterday to check into documents on the bowling alley — construction permits, business registration and fire safety inspection records.

Another team, led by Head Prosecutor Fan Chen-chung (范振中), visited a fire department office in Sinwu to round up communications and dispatch message records, as well as other information relating to the blaze.

Prosecutors also questioned Sinwu firefighter unit captain Tang Chia-hsin (湯佳興) to verify details about what happened at the fire, as victims’ families and other officials have blamed the tragedy on what they describe as Tang’s decisionmaking errors and bad management of the emergency.

Another unit from the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday went to the morgue to carry out autopsies on the six firefighters, aged from 21 to 29.

The move came after news reports and revelations by rescuers on the scene that the victims were burned to death by a “flashover” or “backdraft” explosion at temperatures between 800°C and 900°C, rather than from being trapped under the collapsed, burning structure.

“We have to determine whether the victims were killed by smoke inhalation, knocked down by the caved-in metal sheet roof, or burned to death by the explosion,” a prosecutors’ office spokesman said. “This way, it can be known whether there were human errors involved, and to assess the responsibility of supervisors who instructed the firefighters to enter the burning building.”

The bowling alley’s proprietor, a man surnamed Liu (劉) who is a volunteer firefighter himself, had been summoned and questioned by police officers.

The Control Yuan announced yesterday that it would investigate the possible dereliction of duty and negligence by government officials in firefighters’ deaths.

Control Yuan member Kao Feng-hsien (高鳳仙) said in a press statement last night that she would lead a probe into the firefighters’ working conditions and to find out why the illegal business was allowed to operate for 20 years.

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