Two hurt as fire starts halfway up Saitama high-rise condo tower, sparking panic

A fire broke out in a high-rise condo in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, on Monday night, causing panic among residents.

The fire department was notified of smoke coming out of the 15th floor of the 31-story condo, Forus Tower Tokorozawa, at around 8:10 p.m. on Monday.

Two residents — a man in his 50s and a woman in her 40s — suffered burns and were rushed to a hospital, but their injuries were not serious, the fire department and police officials said.

The condo is in a residential area some 1 km northwest of Seibu Tokorozawa Station. The area was thrown into a turmoil as 15 firetrucks arrived to put out the blaze and residents hurried out of the tower. Local officials set up a temporary evacuation center for the residents.

“I was in a room when I noticed loud noises from outside, and then I noticed there was a fire,” said a 68-year-old man who escaped from his unit on the 18th floor with his wife. “I heard the alarm bells going off and the announcement urging residents to evacuate,” he said, looking shocked.