PARIS (AFP) – A woman has been arrested over a deadly blaze that killed eight people in Paris and police are treating the fire as a possible arson attack, a prosecutor said Tuesday (Feb 5).
Speaking at the scene, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said that a woman who lived in the building in rue Erlanger in the wealthy 16th district had been detained by police.
AFP reported earlier that eight people were killed in a fire that ripped through a residential building in an upmarket Paris neighbourhood early Tuesday, the fire service said.
Described as a “scene of incredible violence”, the blaze also left one person seriously injured and another 30 – including six firefighters – with minor injuries.
The fire started at about 1am (0000 GMT) and was finally brought under control more than five hours later. Its cause is so far unknown.
Fire service spokesman Captain Clement Cognon told AFP at the scene “the toll could still increase” because firefighters were yet to search the upper floors of the eight-storey block, “where the fire was the most violent”.
Some of those affected scrambled on to nearby roofs to escape the smoke and flames, and needed to be rescued by fire crews.
The residential neighbourhood lies on the edge of the vast Bois de Bologne park and close to the stadium of top football club Paris Saint-Germain, the Parc des Princes, in the southwest of the city.
Captain Cognon added: “We had to carry out many rescues, notably for around a dozen people who had taken refuge on the roofs. In total about 50 people were evacuated by firefighters, including through the installation of ladders.”
Fire crews evacuated the 1970s block on rue Erlanger and fought the flames through the night.
Two adjacent buildings were also evacuated as a precaution and local officials were on site to help find housing for residents who could not return to their homes.
Around 200 firefighters were involved in the effort overall, battling the blaze and treating the injured.
Several streets were cordoned off by police and fire crews, and an AFP journalist said a strong smell of smoke hung in the air.
The blaze follows a fire caused by a powerful gas explosion last month that killed four people in the city’s central 9th arrondissement.
In late December, two women and two girls died from asphyxiation in a fire that broke out in a public housing block in a suburb northeast of Paris.