Hong Kong woman arrested over fire that left husband in intensive care

A view of Lai King Estate, the scene of a fire that injured six on Wednesday morning.
PHOTO: Baycrest/Wikipedia/CC-BY-SA-2.5

A Hong Kong woman was arrested on suspicion of arson after she was accused of setting her Kwai Chung home alight in the early hours of Wednesday, leaving her husband in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The woman’s mother-in-law and four neighbours were also injured or complained of feeling unwell after inhaling smoke from the blaze, which broke out in a ninth-floor flat of Yeung King House at Lai King Estate, shortly after 3.30am.

A police source said he believed the woman, 43, a medical assistant at a public hospital, started the fire inside her bedroom while her husband, 46, was asleep.

“Initial investigation indicated she poured flammable liquid inside the bedroom and set alight the solution before running out of the flat,” he said.

He said the woman’s 71-year-old mother-in-law was also inside the flat at the time of the incident.

According to police, the man and his mother managed to run out of the home before emergency personnel arrived. More than 80 residents fled due to the incident, and firefighters took about an hour to douse the flames.

“The 46-year-old man suffered burns to 10 per cent of his body, and was unconscious ... [He is] receiving treatment in intensive care,” assistant Kwai Tsing district commander Superintendent Lam Chi Yuen said.

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According to police, the mother-in-law suffered leg injuries, and four neighbours – one man and three women – sustained scratches while fleeing, or felt sick from smoke inhalation.

The six injured were taken to Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment, but the 46-year-old man was later transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he was in a critical condition. His mother was in a stable condition at Princess Margaret, while the other four were discharged after treatment.

According to police, the 43-year-old suspect, who fled the scene before officers arrived, was arrested when she returned to the building shortly after 9am.

Lam said he believed the arson attack was linked to a relationship dispute between the suspect and her husband.

As of Wednesday evening, the woman was still being held for questioning and had not been charged.

According to official statistics, there were 354 reports of arson across the city in the first eight months of this year, up some 53 per cent from 232 in the same period last year.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.