The house fire that killed a family of six in the northern port city of Hai Phong began when a short circuit sent flames ripping across the home's wood floors and piles of loose cloth, police said at a press briefing.
Colonel Nguyen Van Coong, deputy director of the municipal police department, said the short circuit erupted from a sewing machine at around 5 am.
The 20 square meter house, which hosted the family's tailor shop, was located in a narrow alley off Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Le Chan District.
Coong said the resulting inferno collapsed the home's mezzanine and blocked the entrance, trapping the victims inside.
All six members of the family perished, including a husband and wife, their two sons aged 12 and 19, and the husband’s parents--both in their 80s.
“Pham Thi Kieu, the wife, was eight weeks pregnant,” Coong said.
“Their bodies were burned beyond recognition. Forensic tests found they died of severe burns and asphyxiation.”
The fire burned down everything in the house except for the brick walls. The site will remain blocked off until the conclusion of a full crime scene investigation by the Ministry of Public Security.
Neighbors said they saw the fire at 5 am and tried to call Kieu, who screamed, over the phone that they could not find a way out.
Firemen arrived minutes later.
Le Van Thanh, mayor of Hai Phong, ordered related authorities to provide the family as much support as possible.
The district government gave the family's surviving relatives VND60 million (US$2,800) to help cover burial costs; the district Red Cross gave them VND30 million and Tran Phu Secondary School, where the family’s youngest son Nguyen Thanh Trung was a student, gave them VND10 million.
Many neighbors also donated money.
Pham Thi Thuy, Kieu’s 72-year-old mother, and her relatives have arrived from surrounding districts to attend to the burial of the entire family.
Kieu, 41, ran the tailor at the shop while her husband Nguyen Quang Vinh, 46, sold ornamental trees.
Their eldest son, Nguyen Quang Minh, was a student at the Maritime University in Hai Phong.
The family said they will have the bodies cremated on Tuesday.
Deadly fires are common in Vietnam and are generally blamed on a lack of fire-safety measures.
The garment shop that burned down in Hai Phong killing a family of six on December 29, 2014.
A portion of the home's exterior was charred black.
Furniture inside the house was reduced to metal skeletons.
The stairs inside the house.
The remains of a motorbike.
The flames stripped the house to bare bricks.
Police investigate the site. The signboard for the family's garment shop still stands.
Inside the burned home.
The bereaved family members.