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[Newsmaker] Gas tank fire suspect freed as arrest warrant request denied

GOYANG, Gyeonggi Province -- Police released the man suspected of having caused the fire at a gasoline storage tank northwest of Seoul on Wednesday as prosecutors decided not to file for his arrest warrant, citing insufficient grounds.

The Goyang Police Station said their request for a writ against the 27-year-old Sri Lankan national was dismissed by the Goyang branch of the Uijeongbu District Prosecutors' Office.

Police have sought to arrest him twice since Monday. 


The suspect, whose name was withheld, is accused of causing the fire and explosion in the gas storage tank northwest of Seoul on Sunday.

He flew a sky lantern in the vicinity of the facility in Goyang, which is believed to have led to the 8.5-meter-high, 28.4-meter-radius tank catching fire.

Police requested state prosecutors file for his arrest warrant on Tuesday, but prosecutors demanded an additional investigation.

Police said they will seek a travel ban on the suspect and continue their investigation.

The fire burned 2.66 million liters of gasoline in one of the 14 storage tanks, causing damage worth 4.3 billion won ($3.79 million) to the Daehan Oil Pipeline Corp. No one was injured.

Police believe the sky lantern may have started the fire when it fell on the lawn of the oil storage facility, causing flames that later spread into the ventilation system of the oil tank, causing the explosion.

The suspect, a construction worker, was arrested on Monday on the charge of causing fire by gross negligence. Police had up to 48 hours to hold him.