Tuesday 5 February 2019

At least 10 dead and 30 injured in Paris building fire

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At least 10 people have died and dozens of others injured following a horrific fire in a Paris apartment block today.
People clambered onto rooftops as dozens of people were rescued after the fire broke out soon after midnight on Tuesday in Rue Erlanger.
A suspected female arsonist was arrested after the incident close to the Parc de Princes football stadium, where French football champions Paris St Germain play.
A baby was among the 10 people killed in the fire, police at the scene confirmed. 

News of the child’s death came as Remy Heinz, the Paris prosecutor, confirmed that the arrested woman faced a charge of ‘voluntary destruction by fire resulting in death’.

Thirty people were injured, including eight firefighters.

Some of the worst hurt were seen jumping out of windows from the eight storey block in upmarket 16th arrondissement after the alarm was raised.
Mr Heitz said the fire is thought to have been started in the central stairway, on a high floor, by the so far unidentified female resident.
A 40-year-old female resident was detained at the scene as police opened an investigation into voluntary arson resulting in death. 
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who spoke at the scene Tuesday morning, said the woman was known to have had mental health issues. 
"The number of injuries could prove greater as searches are still underway of the rubble," said Mr Heitz, who added that the fire had been extinguished by 6am.

Fire service spokesman Clement Cognon said it created a "scene of incredible violence", and that many residents of the 1970s building had tried to escape through the roof.
"Thirty people had to be rescued by long ladders," said Mr Cognon. "The fire spread incredibly quickly."
This was because the hallway was ablaze within minutes and covered in thick black smoke.
Though the fire was extinguished before dawn, firefighters were still going door too door this morning to ensure there were no more victims and to prevent residual fires. 

French television showed video of flames in the windows of the building, which authorities said was built in the 1970s.
Emmanuel Gregoire, an official with the city government, said the victims were residents. 
The fire began on the upper floors and spread to other parts of the building, he added.

Fire crews were still searching for further possible victims.
More than 200 firefighters and emergency workers were on the scene, Paris police said. 
People in neighbouring buildings were also evacuated.

One witness said she saw flames shooting out for hours from the top of the building and smoke-covered victims fleeing. 
Jacqueline Ravier, who lives in the street, said flames were raging from the top of the building as smoke-covered victims fled.
"I heard a woman screaming in the street, crying and screaming for help," she said.
She added that shaken residents were brought to her building and the one next door while firefighters continued to fight the flames.
"We feel the smoke," she said. "What's surprising is how long it lasted."

Mr Heitz confirmed that a criminal enquiry was underway into today’s fire, and that judicial police were helping him with the investigation. 
He said that none of the victims of the fire had yet been named.
Mr Heitz said the arrested woman was in her 40s, and had been under treatment "for psychological problems".
She was arrested soon after 1am by a local police unit while trying to set fire to a car and a wheely bin in the street outside the building.

Evening Standard

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