Paris apartment fire kills eight and injures dozens, police arrest woman suspected of arson
A woman has been arrested over a blaze that killed at least eight people and injured dozens more in a quiet Paris district.
- The fire broke out in an apartment building in the wealthy 16th arrondissement
- Residents were forced to flee to the roof or climb out their windows to escape the flames
- More than 30 people were injured and emergency services are searching for victims
Authorities are still searching for other victims of the fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday morning in an eight-storey apartment building on Rue Erlanger in the 16th arrondissement.
The cause of the blaze that injured more than 30 people — including six firefighters — was unclear.
However, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters that investigators suspected a “criminal” cause for the fire and that a woman was in custody.
Mr Heitz said the woman, aged 40, was detained nearby, lived in the building, and was known to have a history of mental health issues.
French television showed video of flames in the windows of the building, which authorities said was built in the 1970s.
“It was a particularly violent fire,” Captain Clement Cognon of the Paris fire service told BFM TV.
Dozens of people were forced to flee to the roof or climb out their windows to escape. (Reuters: Brigade des Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris)
Emmanuel Gregoire, an official with the city government, said the victims were residents.
The fire began on the upper floors and spread to other parts of the building, he added.
Victims ‘crying and screaming for help’
Firefighters rescued about 50 people who had fled to the roof or climbed out windows to escape the flames, and evacuated others from inside.
“I heard a woman screaming in the street, crying and screaming for help,” said witness Jacqueline Ravier, who lives across the street.
She said 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 smoke-covered victims were fleeing, she said.
“We feel the smoke,” Ms Ravier said.
“What’s surprising is how long it lasted.”
The building is about one kilometre from the Roland Garros stadium that hosts the French Open tennis tournament, and close to the popular Bois de Boulogne park on the city’s western edge.
The 16th arrondissement is one of the calmest and most high-end and districts of Paris.
The fire comes a month after a deadly explosion and blaze linked to a gas leak in a Paris bakery that claimed four lives and injured dozens more.
Flames were shooting out for hours from the top of the building in Paris. (AP: Brigade des Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris)