Suspect in deadly New Taipei fire held in detention

Taipei-The New Taipei District Court on Friday ordered that accused arsonist Li Kuo-hui (???) be remanded in custody, after he was arrested the previous day for allegedly starting a deadly apartment fire in New Taipei.

The 49-year-old Li is a serial offender who poses a flight risk, given that he has twice escaped arrest, the court said in its ruling.

Nine people died in the fire that broke out at about 8:37 p.m. Wednesday in the four-story building, which had an illegally constructed fifth floor.

Li was arrested early Thursday by the police, who tracked him down based on surveillance camera footage in the neighborhood of the apartment on Xingnan Road in the city's Zhonghe District.

An initial police investigation revealed that Li had recently had an argument with a resident living on the fourth floor of the building.

On Wednesday night, Lee ignited a fire in the stairway to the fourth floor of the building, and the blaze rapidly engulfed the fourth and the fifth floors, where there were a total of 25 small units with wooden partitions, police said.

The nine people who died in the fire were all tenants on the fourth and fifth floors, according to police.

It was not the first time that Li was accused of arson, as he had started a fire in front of a home on Huaxin Street in May and in an alley on Xingnan Road in June, police said.

No one was hurt in the previous two incidents but a motorcycle caught fire in the second one, police said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel