One man has been confirmed dead after a huge fire swept through two karaoke parlors and quickly spread to adjacent houses in downtown Ho Chi Minh City late Tuesday, consuming a large amount of properties and forcing residents to flee in panic.
The fire might have started from the signboard of the New karaoke parlor at around 9:07 pm Tuesday and then spread to the next door Idol karaoke parlor on Tran Quoc Thao Street in District 3, Nguyen Van Dieu, chairman of the district's People's Committee, said at a press briefing that the city's vice mayor Tat Thanh Cang called at 1:50 am Wednesday.
The fire also raged on to at least six other adjacent houses, Dieu sad.
All those eight houses, including the two karaoke parlors, were either consumed or heavily damaged by the blaze, said Cang, the city's vice mayor. Cang had arrived at the scene to instruct firefighting work since the fire broke out.
According to local authorities, the dead victim was Do Ngoc Cu, 37, of Ditrict 5. The authorities have provided affected residents with makeshift shelters, he said.
Cang said inflammable materials stored at the two karaoke parlors might have fueled the fire and hindered firefighting work.
Further investigations into the cause of the fire have been underway.
At 0 am Wednesday, firefighters managed to almost put out the blaze. At 11 pm, more fire engines and ambulances continued to be deployed.
The fire quickly raged out of control and spread to at least five houses nearby, eyewitnesses said. It has consumed almost all the properties in the karaoke parlors.
Firefighters said they were concerned that there may have still people trapped inside the karaoke parlor.
Residents living nearby have been evacuated and power has been cut on a massive scale. Police also cordoned off Tran Quoc Thao Street.
Nguyen Thanh Dung, who lives in an apartment block facing the fire scene, said he heard a loud blast at around 9 pm and then saw the blaze starting to rage from the karaoke parlor.
“People fled in panic and the fire spread so quickly,” Dung was quoted by news website VnExpress as saying.
Firefighters struggle to put out the blaze. Photo: Bach Duong
Several other eyewitnesses also said they saw the blaze from the signboard of the New karaoke parlor.
"I've never seen such a big and horrendous fire," a lady living nearby told VnExpress.
“We’re mobilizing all available resources to quell the blaze. We’ll make further announcements when it is completely under control,” said Le Tan Buu, director of the HCMC Department of Firefighting Police.
Two men were arrested when they allegedly attempted to loot motorbikes from the fire scene, local police said.
A house fire killed a family of six in the northern port city of Hai Phong early Monday after a short circuit sent flames ripping across the home's wood floors and piles of loose cloth.
Deadly fires are common in Vietnam and are generally blamed on a lack of fire-safety measures.