Houses, motorbikes burned in Vietnam metro during Tet celebration

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Eight houses and six motorbikes caught fire in Ho Chi Minh City Sunday from votive objects set ablaze in celebration of Lunar New Year, known as Tet in Vietnamese.

Tuoi Tre reported that a woman had been burning votive objects at around noon in an alley on Luong The Vinh Street, Tan Phu District, and wind blew some of them onto a pile of styrofoam in front of a factory, igniting the blaze.

Four houses and six motorbikes were burned to ash while four other houses were less severely damaged.

Tran Van Rang, an eyewitness, said the fire grew strong within 15 minutes and that people only had enough time to run away.

No casualties have been reported.

He said four people in one family had to bust through their roof to escape the fire which had engulfed their house.

Nine fire trucks were sent to the site and fire fighters were able put out the fire within an hour. The fire police said their job was hindered by multiple-storey homes located in an alley, which were difficult to access.

Many power lines were also damaged.

Burning votive objects, together with many other practices such as making food offerings and releasing carps, are usually performed on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month, which this year fell on Sunday, as part of a Vietnamese tradition which honors the Kitchen God.

The Kitchen God ascends to heaven on the day to report to the Jade Emperor about the family's business and life over the past year, and returns on Lunar New Year's Eve. Few families still maintain the tradition of abstaining from cooking during the God's absence.

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