France fire: 9 killed in fire at holiday home for disabled people

Sebastien Pozon/AFP/Getty Images

A firefighter sprays water after a fire broke out at a home for the disabled in Windsenheim, near Colmar, eastern France, on August 9, 2023.


At least nine people were killed and two others were missing after a fire broke out at a holiday home in eastern France early Wednesday, authorities said.

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at 6:33 a.m. in Wintzenheim, a small town near the German border about 315 miles (500 kilometers) east of Paris, said Philippe Hawiller, the city’s head of rescue operations.

First responders arrived at the scene 14 minutes later, where 17 people had already left the home.

Eleven people were still inside. Given the intensity of the flames when they arrived, Howwiller said it was “highly likely” that by the time firefighters arrived on the scene, those who did not make it out were already dead.

Authorities dispatched 76 firefighters, four fire trucks and four ambulances, and the fire was brought under control by 9 a.m., the province said in a statement.

Christophe Marot, a senior official in Haut Rhin, told CNN affiliate BFMTV that people inside the building were unable to escape the fire.

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“We know people are stuck. It’s very sad,” he told CNN affiliate BFMTV.

The The 500-square-meter (5,400-square-foot) house used to host disabled people during summer vacations. The group arrived from Nancy, a town about 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Windzenheim, Hawthorn province said in a statement.

The audience is all older, Leroy said, between the ages of 27 and 50. The building they were staying in was “completely destroyed” by the fire, leaving only the ground floor, he said.

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Officials have no leads on the cause of the fire, but the investigation is open, Hauwiller said.

Sebastien Pozon/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities deployed 76 firefighters, four fire engines and four ambulances to douse the fire.

Sebastien Pozon/AFP/Getty Images

People inside the building could not escape the fire, an official said.

“Despite the swift and brave intervention of the fire department, many casualties were reported and I pay tribute to him,” said Interior Minister Gerald Dormanin.

President Emmanuel Macron offered condolences to the victims and thanked first responders in a statement.

“In the face of this tragedy, my thoughts go out to the victims, the injured and their loved ones. Thank you to our security forces and the mobilized emergency services.

Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne said she would visit the city with the Minister for Cohesion, Personal Freedom and Disability, Aror Berge.

“My first thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones,” he said. “I appreciate the firefighters’ response.”

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