Paris fire: Eight dead and many injured at apartment block

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Eight people including a baby have died in a fire at an eight-storey building in south-western Paris, fire service officials say.

Nearly 30 people – including six firefighters – were injured. One person is in a serious condition.

Fifty people were evacuated by ladders from the blaze in the upmarket 16th arrondissement.

The Paris prosecutor says it may have been deliberately started. Police have detained a female suspect.

What happened?

The fire spread across the two floors of the 1970s building on Erlanger street shortly after 01:00 (00:00 GMT), forcing some residents to scramble on to nearby rooftops to escape the flames and smoke. Pictures showed flames coming from the top floor windows and firemen climbing flimsy ladders.

Firefighter helping a woman escape the building using a ladder
Image captionThe fire is one of the deadliest Paris has seen in years

About 250 firefighters were deployed to the scene not far from the Bois de Boulogne park, helping to rescue those trapped on the roofs.

“When we arrived, we were faced with an apocalyptic situation. Lots of people were calling for help from the windows”, the spokesman said.

Six firefighters are among the injured, reports French broadcaster BFMTV.

“The layout of this building – which is a modern residential building in a good state of repair – meant that the firefighters, and we must pay tribute to their professionalism, had to evacuate the victims from the facade of the building using ladders because it was impossible to get into the courtyard of the building, which is in the shape of an H,” Emmanuel Grégoire, Paris deputy mayor, told Reuters news agency.

The fire was brought under control after a five-hour operation, but the death toll could still increase, a fire service spokesman told the AFP news agency.

A fire engine at the scene of the blaze in Paris, France. Photo: 5 February 2019
Image captionIt was not immediately known what had caused the fire

Nothing of the fire is visible from the end of the street, which has been sealed off, the BBC’s Hugh Schofield reports from Paris.

This is because the building was on an inner courtyard. Firefighters says this complicated their task because they could not use their vehicles. The courtyard also acted as a funnel, helping the flames to spread from the lower to upper floors. Neighbours are being quizzed by journalists.

Surrounding buildings in the area have been evacuated as a precaution. Town hall officials have been tasked with finding alternative accommodation, reports Le Parisien newspaper.

How is the inquiry proceeding?

An investigation has been opened into the criminal charge of causing death by arson, AFP reports.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has sent her condolences to the victims, and is on her way to the site, along with Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

Just a few weeks earlier, four people were killed after a huge blast at a bakeryin the centre of the city.

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