6 firefighters perish in Taiwan blaze

6 firefighters perish in Taiwan blaze
A member of the fire department walks at the fire site of a bowling venue in northern Taoyuan on January 20, 2015.

Six young firefighters perished in the line of duty in the early hours of yesterday morning while trying to fight a blaze at a bowling alley located in Taoyuan's Xinwu District.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan held a meeting in response to the Xinwu fire, and said he estimated that each deceased fireman's family will be receiving a NT$19 million (S$803,00) pension.

Responding to the bowling alley's architectural, operational and land use violations, Cheng said that a heavy punishment will be meted out. In addition, Cheng promised to tear down all of the city's illegal structures to avoid future public safety disasters.

The Taoyuan City Government has created an emergency group to help families with funeral plans.

Families of the deceased arrived on the scene with Buddhist priests to summon the souls of the firemen in a spiritual ceremony.

Second Floor Culprit

Built from metal sheets and wooden beams, the three-story bowling alley experienced a powerful explosion after the fire was subdued. The unexpected explosion trapped the firemen, which led to their deaths.

Initial investigations concluded that the fire started on the second floor, with the source of the blaze thought to be the transformer box.

Two brothers, surnamed Liu, who owned the business escaped the fire uninjured. The 52-year-old elder brother was a volunteer firefighter and helped combat the deadly blaze.

The Liu brothers were summoned by police for interrogation and have agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors' investigation.

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