HIGASHIIZU, Shizuoka -- Four people were found dead at a home here destroyed by a fire late on Sept. 1, and police investigators are trying to identify the victims whom they believe all belong to the five-member family living in the house.
According to the Shizuoka Prefectural Police's Shimoda Police Station, the fire started in the single-story home of Hiromi Shiratori, 60, in this central Japan town at around 11:20 p.m. on Sept. 1, and razed the 60-square-meter structure along with two sheds next to the home.
Shiratori was transferred to a hospital but not in a life-threatening condition. Contact was lost with his 53-year-old wife, his 29-year-old first son, his 28-year-old second son and his eldest son's 5-year-old son.
Police and local firefighters examined the remains of the home on Sept. 2 in a residential area 1 kilometer north of Katase Shirata Station on the Izu Express Line. The home had a joint living room and kitchen, and two bedrooms. Police and firefighters said the burning had been fiercest in the living room but they were unable to specify the cause of the fire. They suspect it was accidental.
Shiratori's elder brother Masayoshi, 67, who saw the sibling in the hospital, said that Shiratori had noticed smoke in his bedroom and let other family members know about it as he evacuated, but they were unable to escape in time. Masayoshi said with his shoulders dropped, "I was left speechless when I received the report from the fire station. The family had often visited my house."
Shiratori's first son, who worked at a nursing-care center in the same town, had apparently been well-liked by the center's residents due to his gentle personality. An employee of the center said, "He doted on his son and when he went home after work I got the feeling he was doing so for his son. His son also clung to him when they joined in a party in appreciation of the staff members."
(Japanese original by Yukina Furukawa, Haruka Takaba and Nobuyuki Shimada, Shizuoka Bureau)