Changhua County government officials have been deemed mostly responsible for a deadly blaze at a commercial building last year, with penalties to be announced later, a Control Yuan report said on Wednesday.
Control Yuan members Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華) and Pasuya Poiconu presented the report after completing a probe into the fire at the Chiaoyu Building in Changhua City that occurred on June 30 last year, which resulted in four deaths and 22 injuries.
The people who died were three guests of an upper floor hotel and one firefighter.
Photo: Liu Hsiao-hsin, Taipei Times
The 30-year-old building had numerous internal renovations, added-on structures and other modifications, which were not inspected by government agencies for fire code and safety compliance, Yeh said, adding that the blaze was the building’s fourth in its history.
The fire burned for nearly nine hours after likely being ignited by either an electrical outlet failure or a burning cigarette on a second-floor staircase. Flames spread quickly through ventilation shafts, mostly affecting the Passion Fruit Hotel on the sixth to ninth floors.
The business was operating as a COVID-19 quarantine hotel at the time.
The fire was due to a series of mistakes and lack of government oversight, and the hotel’s management did not enact fire prevention measures or adhere to safety regulations, Poiconu said.
Government officials and fire inspectors had also failed to inspect the facility, he added.
“It is regrettable that it took a deadly blaze to expose the deficiencies, negligence and dereliction of duty,” Poiconu said.
Firefighters should receive enhanced training and follow the best practices of safety agencies in Japan, the US and the UK, he said, adding that this would include new equipment and education.
The probe consisted of on-site inspections, interviews, and reviews of data and reports.
“We found the numerous safety code contraventions and unlawful registry changes for the upper floors, which were officially for residential use,” Yeh said, adding that a commercial permit was not applied for.
The building also did not have routes for evacuation, which county government officials should have identified, Yeh said.
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