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Fire breaks out at a studio of Kyoto Animation Co. on July 19.

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Published on Jul 17, 2019

KYOTO--Thirteen people were feared dead and 36 were injured after a suspected arsonist set fire to a three-story animation studio here on July 18, police and fire department officials said.

Police detained a 41-year-old man who is believed to have spread a flammable liquid in the area of the studio operated by Kyoto Animation Co. Witnesses said he ran into the building screaming, “Die.”

He was injured in the incident and taken to a hospital.

The studio is located in a residential area in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward about 100 meters north of Rokujizo Station on Keihan Electric Railway Co.'s Uji Line. There were about 70 people in the studio at the time.

One death has been confirmed, while 12 others were found in a state of cardiac arrest. Among the 36 people who were injured, 10 were listed in serious condition, according to the Kyoto fire department, which dispatched 35 firetrucks to the scene.

The toll could rise further because firefighters had not yet completed their search of the third floor.

Several neighbors called the fire department around 10:35 a.m. after they heard an explosion and saw smoke rising from the building.

A woman in her 20s who works nearby said she went outside after hearing the explosion around 10:30 a.m. When she approached the burning building, she saw a man apparently in his 20s trying to escape along a support on the outer wall on the second story.

The woman and a co-worker brought a ladder to the building to help the man reach the ground.

The head of a local taxi company’s branch near the site said two men ran into the office around 10:40 a.m. and asked that the fire department be called.

One of the men was assisting the other, whose clothes were badly burned. The branch chief tried to support the two while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.

A 22-year-old man said he heard two or three explosions and saw black smoke emerging from a first-floor window. He said flames could be seen in many of the building’s windows.

Kyoto Animation has produced a number of popular TV anime series, such as “K-On!,” “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and “Sound! Euphonium.”

Although many major animation companies are located in the Tokyo area, Kyoto Animation has kept its base of operations in the ancient capital since its founding in 1981 because the city has accumulated a long cultural history, company officials said.

Much of the work on the company’s TV programs and movies is done in Kyoto.

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