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Police apprehend suspect in deadly arson case

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Police apprehended a man in Taichung yesterday who is suspected of committing arson in connection with a fire that claimed three lives earlier yesterday morning. Police are currently conducting further investigations into the fatal incident to determine the possibility of foul play.

The Fire Bureau of the Taichung City Government responded to a call at 2:18 a.m. The caller reported that a fire had been started on 10 scooters parked on the veranda of an old house. By the time firefighters were dispatched to the site, the two-story building was engulfed in flames with the gates drawn shut, making rescue efforts an arduous task.

After breaking in from the second-floor window with the aid of a ladder, firefighters were not able to locate any of the three occupants, as the majority of the architecture was archaic in fashion and built using wood. The three victims who were sleeping on the second level fell through the floor when the structure began to collapse.

Only one victim was located after firefighters were able to reach the bottom floor. The victim, surnamed Kuo, was identified as a tenant by the landlord. Kuo reportedly worked for the landlord as an allograph representative.

With the fire burning too strong for further rescue, firefighters were only able to retrieve the burnt remains of Kuo's wife and his brother visiting from Chicago after the fire was extinguished. Though rushed to the Cheng Ching General Hospital (澄清醫院) located right across the street from the incident, Kuo passed away from severe burns as well as an impact wound sustained from his fall.

Kuo and his wife are survived by their son and two daughters. Upon further interviews with the family, it was revealed that Kuo had retired recently to take care of his sick wife, one of the reasons why the couple never left the house after retirement. Kuo's brother, who resided in Chicago, was a frequent visitor to the family every Christmas. The incident also cast a shadow over the upcoming wedding of one of the family's daughters.

After Taichung Deputy Mayor Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄) arrived on the scene to give his condolences to the family, he was presented with a brief report on the status of the investigation, which cited the high possibility of foul play. Prosecutor Chen Chien-wen (陳建文) of the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office, however, remains reserved on the reports, stating that no conclusions should be drawn until all evidence as well as all possibilities are examined and ruled out.

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An old house in Taichung is engulfed in flames in the middle of the night, yesterday. The fire claimed the lives of 3 people, one of whom was a resident of Chicago. (CNA)

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