PARIS: At least eight people died in western Paris on Tuesday morning when a huge fire ripped through an apartment block in a suspected “criminal” act.
One woman has been placed in custody as part of the investigation with the authorities favouring a “criminal” cause for the blaze, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said.
Thirty-six people, including some firefighters, were injured although most of them “lightly”, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has announced.
‘Save these people’
The fire started shortly before 01:00 on the upper floors of an eight-storey building on rue Erlanger, in the city’s 16th arrondissement.
Clement Cogon from the Paris fire service told BFM TV that “it was a particularly violent fire.”
Paris-based social media user Laetitia Chevallier said she could see people who had fled to the roof in order to escape the flames.
“Save these people,” she tweeted to the Paris fire brigade.
Other nearby residents posted footage showing the enormous response from emergency services.
Some 250 firefighters were deployed to tackle the blaze, safely evacuating 50 residents. The fire was eventually contained at about 06:00.
Prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters at the site that one person, “a woman” with a “psychiatric history” who lived in the building, had been arrested.
“At this stage, and given the elements we have, it’s the criminal thesis that is favoured,” he added.
Daniele Giazzi, mayor of the 16th arrondissement, told CNEWS that there had been “a dispute between neighbours.”
A probe has been launched for “intentional destruction by fire resulting in death.”
‘Paris is in mourning’
In a statement posted to Twitter, city mayor Anne Hidalgo said “Paris is in mourning” after waking up to the news of the deadly fire.
“My first thoughts are with the families of the missing. I offer them my sincere condolences. I want to tell them my deep sadness and assure them of all my support.”
“At 9 a.m., the Paris Council will open with a minute of silent in tribute to the victims,” she added.__EuroNews