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Five dead, two injured in building fire
( 2004-01-08 23:58) (China Daily)

At least five people died Wednesday in a fire, possibly intentionally set, at a residential building in Shijiazhuan, capital of North China's Hebei province.

Police have caught a suspect yesterday, according to a local journalist with the Yangzhao Metropolis Daily. The suspect was believed to be an accomplice of the suspected arsonist, and the police believe that at least two people set the fire.

The Shijiazhuang-based newspaper reported yesterday the fire may have been started by some employees who had wage-related quarrels with their boss who lived in the two-storey building.

Police from Xinhua District, where the fire happened, said an investigation is ongoing but did not provide any more details.

The report said the fire started around 9 pm Wednesday. Five people died and two were injured.

An eyewitness, who lives on the first floor of the building, said he heard a cry of "fire!" from the upstairs. He rushed to the second floor only to see two men in flames run out of a room.

The eyewitness said he tried to save others stuck in the room but the fire was too strong to rush in.

One of the two survivors is the boss in question. He works in garment manufacturing.

The newspaper said the dead may be his wife, children and other relatives.

The eyewitness said the boss paid his employees Wednesday morning but the two parties seemed have a bitter quarrel.

Another eyewitness said some employees carrying gasoline went to the building and argued with the boss Wednesday night just hours before the fire.

"This is a criminal case," one police officer told the reporter on scene Wednesday night. Other officers refused to elaborate.

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