Light bulb likely caused fire that killed boy in wooden jungle gym at Tokyo art show

The accident also injured the father and another man who tried to save the boy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 3:43pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 10:41pm

An incandescent bulb was likely the source of a fire Sunday at an outdoor art event in central Tokyo that killed a 5-year-old boy trapped in a burning jungle gym exhibit, a source at the university whose students made the wooden structure said Monday.

In addition to a light-emitting diode bulb, the incandescent light bulb was inside the art work where kindergartener Kento Saeki is believed to have been playing before the accident, according to the Nippon Institute of Technology source.

“The incandescent light was on the ground next to some woodchips,” the source said.

The accident in the Meiji Jingu Gaien area late Sunday afternoon injured the boy’s father and another man.

A witness has reported seeing the fire spreading from the woodchips to the wooden structure. Police are investigating the accident on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

The art work had been made by a student group at the university. The light bulb was intended for use after dark so students could work on the structure after sunset, according to school president Kenichi Narita.

Narita apologised for the accident at a news conference on Monday, saying: “The responsibility for the accident solely lies with the university and its president.”

The source said the incandescent bulb was usually disconnected from a power cord, but a member of the student production team had mistakenly connected it before the fire.

The police said a male university student in the team has admitted to turning the incandescent bulb on before the accident.

A LED light bulb was also hanging from the upper part of the wooden object for display purposes, but the source said the students had taken safety measures by covering its casing with tape.

After the fire, Saeki, a resident of Tokyo’s Minato Ward, was found dead inside the burnt wooden object. The victim’s 44-year-old father and a man in his 40s tried to save him and suffered burns.

The object was 3 metres high and about 5 metres wide.