MATSUYAMA – Police on Sunday arrested a resident of a facility for the disabled in Shikoku on suspicion of arson leading to the death of three fellow residents.
Authorities said they were in the process of identifying the three bodies, believed to be two men in their 30s and a woman in her 60s who were unaccounted for after the fire, which started before 1 a.m. Sunday in a building at the facility in Matsuno, Ehime Prefecture.
According to police, Chifumi Zenke, a 49-year-old resident, admitted starting a fire in her room gutting the building.
The facility, which is run by the nonprofit Mikotokai organization, is for people with mental and physical disabilities. The group had recently begun installing a sprinkler system, but the incident occurred before the work was completed, local firefighters said.
“The fire broke out and I heard the sound of glass from windows crash onto the ground a number of times,” said Masaru Mukai, 69, a neighbor who rushed to help extinguish the blaze. But “since the force of the fire was so strong, I couldn’t get close.”
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