The Korea Herald


[Newsmaker] At least 2 killed in Gwangju motel fire, death toll expected to rise

Arson suspect in ICU with non-life-threatening injuries

By Kim Arin

Published : Dec. 22, 2019 - 09:17

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At least wo people were killed and 31 others injured in an early morning fire at a motel in Gwangju, Sunday.

Authorities said the fire, which broke out at 5:45 a.m. at the motel in the northern part of the city, was extinguished within 22 minutes at 6:07 a.m.

The death toll could rise, as 13 people sustained serious injuries, including smoke inhalation and burns, according to authorities. 

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)
(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Most of the 32 rooms of the five-story accommodation were occupied at the time of the fire.

Police arrested a man, 39, identified only by the surname Kim, on suspicions of arson. He is in intensive care unit, but his condition is not life-threatening.

According to Gwangju Bukbu Police Station, Kim told police he had checked in by himself, set the bedding on fire with suicidal intent and left the building. The room where the fire had started was completely burnt down.

Police said their probe was interrupted as Kim had to be moved to the intensive care unit for burns and smoke inhalation. But as he had admitted to guilt at time of arrest, substantiating his guilt will not be a problem.

The fire originated in a room on the third floor, barring those in upper floors from escaping.

A woman jumped from the fourth floor, landing on a canopy roof over the garage and avoiding serious injuries.

The motel was not required to install a fire sprinkler system due to its building classification.

In total, 217 fire officials and some 48 fire engines and other equipment were mobilized in firefighting efforts.

Gwangju municipal office convened an emergency meeting for response in the aftermath including support for victims.

“Fire caused by arson does not mean city bears no responsibility,” Mayor Lee Yong-seop said.

By Kim Arin (