Three members of a family were killed in a burning Vietnamese house which also functioned as a leatherware shop almost with no fire escape in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho early Sunday.
Firefighters and the police, who brought eight trucks, only managed to put out the fire after two and a half hours at 5 a.m. as there were plenty of inflammable items like leather footwear, bags, belts standing in their way.on the wooden floor.
The house doesn't have large exits and choking smoke forced the police to smash the wall of the house next door to bring the victims out.
The police said the blaze was the biggest in the city downtown they have ever dealt with.
Initial investigations revealed that Doi Phuong Trieu, the father who was a retired colonel, was sleeping with his wife Vo Thi Phuong Nga and daughter Doai Thi Phuong Dao at the back of the house, which had no way out.
Police found their bodies in the bathroom on the second floor, suggesting they had huddled there as they were trying to escape.
The three victims were survived by their son and brother Doai Phuoc Me, who went out to watch a World Cup soccer match Saturday night.
Men said he came back only to see the fire raging and he could not contact his family inside. He is a police officer and so was his deceased sister.
The family rented out the ground floor to the shop.
Six employees of the shop escaped through the corrugated iron roof. One climbed to a tree in front of the house and was rescued by the police while the other five jumped over the top of neighboring houses.
Pham Manh Quan, owner of the shop, said a new shipment worth around VND5 billion (US$234,800) was consumed by the fire.
Police are investigating the cause of fire.
Deadly fires are common in Vietnam and are generally blamed on a lack of fire-safety measures.