Surveillance footage of Shuri Castle Fire reveals 18-minute gap

Surveillance footage of Shuri Castle Fire reveals 18-minute gap

Shuri Castle surveillance footage from 3:23 a.m. on October 31, 2019, the moment of the fire. The surveillance camera in the Seiden Main Hall (top left) had lost power.

February 27, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 26, the Okinawa General Bureau released surveillance footage of the Shuri Castle fire, captured on four security cameras positioned inside and outside the Seiden Main Hall.

According to the footage, the motion sensors detected smoke and alerted the guards of a fire.

The guards began attacking the fire with fire extinguishers 18 minutes after the alarms went off.

About 30 minutes had passed from when the alarms went off, to the fire department hosing down the fire.

At this point, the fire, which is thought to have originated in the northeastern part of the main hall, had spread south, indicating there were struggles during the initial management of the fire.

The footage shows the fire quickly spread in a horizontal line along the eaves of the roof on the northeast side of the main hall.

The video also shows an object emitting a small light in the main hall approximately 3 minutes before the motion sensors went off.

Out of the 68 security cameras in the park, footage from four cameras that captured the fire (one inside the main hall and three outside) was edited.

On Wednesday, the edited footage was released during a meeting of the “fire prevention working group,” which comprises members of the Shuri Castle Restoration Technical Review Committee.

Okinawa Commemorative National Government Park Office Director Takehiko Suzuki explained the 18-minute gap between the motion sensors going off and the initial fire extinguishing efforts: “the guards had a fire extinguisher and they were determining where to use it.”

The restoration committee chair and University of the Ryukyus professor emeritus Kurayoshi Takara said, “The footage tells us that by the time the [guards were] alerted to the fire, it was already out of control. I am reminded of how important the initial response action is.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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