An early morning fire has destroyed the Chihsing Tan Katsuo Museum (七星柴魚博物館) in Xincheng Township, Hualien County, leaving staff and locals in shock, Apple Daily reported. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
The fire at the traditional Japanese-style building that is dedicated to dried bonito fish started at 2:58 am and spread quickly, according to witnesses. The structure was built during Japanese occupation and made of cypress. 18 fire trucks and 43 firefighters were dispatched to fight the blaze and prevent it from spreading to nearby buildings.
There were no casualties, but the displays were destroyed. Damages have not been fully assessed, but are estimated at more than NT$100 million.
Museum director Feng Hsiao-hui (馮筱惠) said that the museum was like her child. She hopes that staff will be able to develop new ideas to rebuild the museum and attract visitors. Feng noted that the museum attracted about 5,000 daily visitors because of its proximity to the scenic area.
The 500-ping (17,787 sq. ft.) museum near Qixingtan Beach was originally a Japanese Katsuobushi factory, producing fish flakes. It was redeveloped into a museum in 2003 and currently has 55 employees.
Video of the fire was uploaded to the Liberty Times YouTube channel.