FUKUSHIMA – Seven people were found dead Thursday after a wooden house caught fire in Fukushima Prefecture, local police said.
Firefighters received an emergency call at around 11:05 p.m. Wednesday in the town of Ono, roughly 190 km northeast of Tokyo. The fire was extinguished about an hour later.
Nine people, including four children, lived in the house owned by 61-year-old Tsuneyoshi Shiota. Two of the residents — Shiota’s wife in her 50s and son-in-law in his 30s — have been confirmed to be safe.
Shiota’s wife sustained minor injuries to both of her hands. His son-in-law was at work when the fire broke out.
The other residents were Shiota’s mother, 81, daughter, 30, and four grandchildren aged between 3 and 8, according to the police.
The fire burned down the two-story house and an adjacent warehouse. Investigative sources said the fire apparently started on the first floor, which was almost completely burned.
Chronic health issues had limited Shiota’s mobility, a neighbor said. Nearby residents also said the fire spread quickly, which the police suspect made it difficult for the victims to escape.
Another neighbor said he noticed the fire after hearing a barking dog. “When I looked outside, the home was in flames. I also heard two or three explosions,” he said, adding, “The kids were still small.”