Hong Kong man fights for life after being set alight in alleged arson attack

Officers and firefighters at the scene of the blaze in Ma Yau Tong Village.
PHOTO: Now TV News

A 69-year-old man in Hong Kong is fighting for his life in hospital after being injured in an alleged arson attack at his village house, with more than 120 firefighters taking about three hours to put out the blaze.

Police arrested his co-tenant, 67, who was accused of setting alight the victim with flammable solution during a dispute in the Tseung Kwan O home on Monday night.

Twenty-seven fire engines and four ambulances were called to Ma Yau Tong Village when the blaze broke out in the tin-sheeted shed shortly after 8.30pm.

It was upgraded to the No. 3 alarm at 8.56pm. The severity of fires in the city is graded on a scale of one to five, with the latter being the most serious.

Ho Chun-pong, acting senior divisional officer (Kowloon East) of the Fire Services Department, said the blaze was upgraded because of the rapid and unusual way it spread, and that the site was far away from water sources.

"Firefighters had to lay and connect hosepipes to draw water about 300 metres away," he said.

The two male tenants, aged 67 and 69, had run out of the blazing hut before emergency personnel arrived.

Firefighters used two water jets and mobilised four rescue teams equipped with breathing apparatus to battle the flames. The fire was largely extinguished by 11.45pm.

The victim was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment. PHOTO: May Tse

The 69-year-old man suffered burns to his head, arms and legs and was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei for treatment. He was in a critical condition as of Tuesday morning.

"The investigation suggested the two men had a dispute over a dog one of them kept at the house," a police source said.

"In the heat of the argument, the 69-year-old man was doused with flammable liquid and set alight."

Police arrested the 67-year-old man on suspicion of wounding. As of midday on Tuesday, the suspect, who was unhurt in the incident, was still being held for questioning and had not been charged.

Detectives from the Tseung Kwan O district crime squad are handling the case.

In the first 10 months of this year, police handled 259 reports of arson across the city, down 36.8 per cent from 410 cases in the same period the year before.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.