Police launch arson probe after 10 people killed by blaze in apartment block

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Police launch arson probe after 10 people killed by blaze in apartment block

 


Fatal fire: The building burns as firefighters attempt to save residents. Photo: Getty Images
Fatal fire: The building burns as firefighters attempt to save residents. Photo: Getty Images

A woman was being held last night for a suspected “revenge arson attack” on a Paris apartment block in which 10 people are so far confirmed to have died, with 33 injured.

At least one of the victims was a “young child”, according to the local mayor.

The fire on the upper floors of the building in the rue Erlanger in the upmarket 16th district of south-west Paris is the most deadly in the French capital since 2005.

Videos from the scene showed the building engulfed in flames and firefighters climbing flimsy ladders to rescue stricken residents, some in pyjamas, from the top of the eight-storey block. Many escaped on to the roof.

Remy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor, said that a “40-year-old woman who has prior psychological problems” had been arrested “apparently in a drunken state” at the scene after trying to set light to a car.

“She apparently had a row with neighbours which ended badly and she set fire to the building,” he added.

An investigation has been launched into the criminal charge of causing death by arson.

The suspect’s neighbour, a 22-year old professional firefighter who declined to be named, told ‘Le Parisien’ newspaper he thought the woman had acted in revenge after his girlfriend complained about loud music.

President Emmanuel Macron tweeted yesterday morning: “France has woken up to tragedy.”

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said: “I want to salute the huge mobilisation of the Paris firefighters,” he said. “More than 250 people arrived immediately and, throughout the night, saved more than 50 people in truly exceptional conditions.”

Firefighters rescued some from the roof as well as others who had clambered out of windows to escape the flames.

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Mr Castaner said the blaze, that started on the second floor, had been extinguished and more than 30 people were being treated for “relatively” light injuries.

“I heard a woman screaming in the street, crying and screaming for help,” said witness Jacqueline Ravier, who lives across the street. She saw a young man blackened by smoke and a woman motionless on the ground.

Flames were shooting out for hours from the top of the building and soot-covered victims were fleeing.

Ms Ravier said shaken residents were brought to her building and the one next door while firefighters continued to fight the flames.

City fire service spokesman Clement Cognon said firefighters went door-to-door to ensure there were no more victims and to prevent residual fires.

“The situation was already dramatic when the firefighters arrived,” Mr Cognon said.

Emergency workers sought to shore up the building that was badly damaged after flames shot out of windows stretching across the upper floors.

Meanwhile, four children aged between three and eight have died in a house fire in England. Two adults and a fifth child, a toddler, were being treated in hospital for injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening following the blaze in Stafford, north of Birmingham.

Police and emergency services were called at 2.40am yesterday. A man jumped out of a window at the house with a young child, the BBC reported.

Chief Inspector John Owen of Staffordshire Police described the incident as “absolutely heartbreaking”.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Irish Independent

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