Acer hit by blaze in Taiwanese office complex

A fire that burned for 37 hours in Taiwan has caused extensive damage to an office complex packed with high-technology companies,...

A fire that burned for 37 hours in Taiwan has caused extensive damage to an office complex packed with high-technology companies, including Acer, the island's largest brand-name PC manufacturer.

Local press reports estimate that the damage caused by the fire may total TWD2bn (£43m) or more. There were no injuries among the companies' staff, but two firefighters were slightly injured putting out the blaze. The complex, called the Eastern Science Park, is in Hsichih, to the east of Taipei.

"The buildings are just charred remains," said Lauren Swartz, an Acer spokeswoman. "It's a charred mess, there's broken glass everywhere and emergency vehicles are still parked outside."

Although Acer's corporate offices were unaffected by the fire, several of the company's subsidiaries were hit, including AOpen, which designs and manufactures motherboards, HiTrust, an Internet security company, Servex Group, a network of IT product distributors and, Pivotal Communications, which develops voice software for routers, and Apacer Technology, which designs and manufactures memory modules.

On May 14, the Acer subsidiaries affected by the fire were working from temporary offices, said Swartz, adding that the company does not expect product delivery to be adversely affected by the blaze.

Acer initially estimated that the fire caused damage totaling TWD670m, including TWD440m in structural damage and TWD230m in damage to equipment and inventory. Acer's fire insurance will limit the company's losses to TWD130m.

However, it now says those estimates appear to be high. "It's not as bad as they first thought," said Swartz, adding that precise figures had yet to be determined.

Factors blamed for the extensive damage caused by the fire include high winds from tropical storm Cimaron, which passed to the east of Taiwan on Sunday, and the lack of ladders high enough to reach the floors that were on fire.

Taiwan's premier Chang Chun-hsiung has ordered a task force, headed by minister-without-portfolio Chen Chin-huan, to investigate the causes of the fire and to recommend measures to prevent a similar disaster in the future.

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