At 2:09 a.m. this morning (Dec. 14), the Taoyuan Fire Department received a report of a fire in a factory in the city's Luzhu district, where it dispatched 43 firetrucks and ambulances and 107 firefighters.
The fire department said that when firefighters arrived on the scene a massive blaze was roaring through the two-story factory which was covered in metal siding.
Out of the 12 Vietnamese employees housed in a second floor dormitory next to the factory, one was on duty and not inside the dorm, while firefighters were able to rescue five, including a 30-year-old man surnamed Chu, who jumped from the 2nd floor and suffered a sprained right ankle and burns to his face, and a 26-year-old man surnamed Nguyen, who sustained burns to his arms and legs, both of whom were sent to Chang Gung Hospital.
After the fire was finally extinguished almost exactly four hours later at 6:10 a.m., six Vietnamese workers were still unaccounted for. After extensive searching, the remains of the six victims were finally found, burned beyond recognition, at 11:30 a.m.. reported CNA.
Officials believe the fire started when a circuit breaker box ignited in the sole stairwell of the dormitory as the workers inside were sound asleep, reported Apple Daily. Taoyuan Fire Department's Third Battalion Chief Lai Chih-chung told CNA that because the fire started in the stairwell and it was the structure's only exit, many of the workers were not able to flee in time.
The fire then spread to insulation and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic stored on the first floor of the factory, eventually engulfing an area of 1,000 square meters in flames.
The Taoyuan Construction Management Office told the media that the factory, operated by Sican Co., LTD. had been previously inspected and was deemed a legal structure, however the worker dormitory that caught fire today appears to be an illegal structure, though a more thorough investigation is still required to confirm this.
The missing workers, who are now presumed dead, were identified by the surnames of Phung , Tran, Bui , Huynh and two people surnamed Nguyen.
Many friends and colleagues of the missing workers who had gathered near the scene of the fire in hopes that they would be rescued, wept as they witnessed their remains being removed from the burned out facility.