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Fire kills three as it rips through restaurant and upstairs rooms

Date Posted: 2005-10-22

A weekend fire at a restaurant in Okinawa City claimed the lives of two workers and a customer.

The blaze caught hold in the first floor restaurant, then quickly spread to an upper floor used as the restaurant owner’s home and for worker sleeping spaces. Flames engulfed the building about 5:30am Sunday, with smoke filling the air in the Misato Area.

Neighbors smelled smoke and called the fire department. At the same time, the owner was awakened by shouts and screams, then roused people on the upper floors of the building.

The body of one worker was found trapped on the second floor. “She went out by herself,” the owner said, “but she couldn’t do anything for workers and customers as the fire spread too fast. The charred body was found along the stairs.

In the restaurant, the burned body of another worker was found alongside a man believed to have been a customer. Thick acrid smoke prevented passers by from making rescue attempts. The fire department says all three were dead at the scene.

The fire may ave started in a trash can. “I think the fire came from that trash can,” he said. “This can was made from plastic.” The fire department thinks “there may have been cigarette ashes in the trash can. That’s how the fire happened.”

The concrete structure kept the fire contained to the single building, but the wood and paper interior burned quickly. The fire did not spread to adjacent buildings.

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