Famed cardiologist Lai Wen-de (賴文德), the former director of Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital, and his wife survived a fire yesterday in their five-story home in Kaohsiung, but their daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren died in the blaze.
The Kaohsiung City Fire Department said it received an alert of the fire at about 7am, and by the time firefighters arrived at the house in Sanmin District (三民), the third, fourth and fifth floors were ablaze. At least 40 vehicles and 90 firefighters were deployed.
Firefighters heard Lai and his wife crying for help from the third floor and were able to rescue them, it said.
Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times
Members of the department’s special search and rescue team found Lai Wei-an (賴韋安), her husband, Huang Yen-jieh (黃彥傑), and their three children — aged two, three and five — trapped by a collapsed ceiling on the fourth floor, severely burned.
All five were pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.
Lai Wei-an was a doctor at Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, while her husband was a physician in Jiann Ren Hospital’s family medicine department.
Second Battalion chief Chen Ming-tung (陳明桐) said an initial investigation suggested a short-circuiting electrical device on the staircase at the second floor level had sparked the blaze.
There were no smoke detectors or fire alarms in the house, he said.
The family had used wood in the interior design of the house and had a lot of wooden furniture, which helped fuel the blaze, while a balcony railing and 1.6m guard rails on the fourth floor had hampered rescue efforts, he added.
Lai Wen-de, had served as Presidential Office Secretary-General Chen Chu’s (陳菊) attending physician after she suffered a mild stroke in 2007 while she was Kaohsiung mayor.
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