Poland shuts 13 escape rooms after five teenage girls die in fire at venue with ‘no evacuation route’
Polish officials have ordered the closure of 13 escape rooms after discovering safety flaws in the wake of the deaths of five 15-year-old girls at a venue in the country’s north last week.
- Five teen girls died of carbon monoxide inhalation while locked in an escape room
- Prosecutors say a leaky gas container inside a heater likely caused the fire
- Officials reviewed 200 locations across Poland
The move comes as prosecutors presented charges against the man who designed the entertainment site — identified only as Milosz S — with intentionally creating a fire danger and unintentionally causing the deaths of the girls in the city of Koszalin.
According to Poland’s fire chief, Leszek Suski, there was no emergency evacuation route at the venue.
Attorneys for the man charged said he was “deeply distraught” by the deaths.
They said the 28-year-old denies the charges. If convicted, Milosz S could face up to eight years in prison.
Autopsies showed the girls — who were reportedly friends from school — died of carbon monoxide inhalation.
Police chief Jaroslaw Szymczyk said people had previously posted critical remarks online about the safety of the Koszalin escape room site, but local officials were not notified.
Highly popular with teenagers across Poland, the escape room game sees players locked inside a room or building and forced to find clues to help them get out.
More than 200 of Poland’s 1,100 escape rooms have been checked since Friday (local time), revealing a number of safety flaws requiring immediate attention.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the girls’ deaths as an “immense tragedy” after a meeting to improve the escape rooms’ safety on Sunday, when he also called for people to report such lapses to firefighters and police.
During a memorial Mass at Koszalin Cathedral the same day, Bishop Edward Dajczak identified four of the five girls as Karolina, Gosia, Wiktoria and Amelia.
He later led public prayers in front of the venue where they died.
Hundreds of lights, toys and white flowers have been left by the fence.
Firefighters found the victims’ bodies on Friday after they extinguished a fire at the escape room site next to the locked room.
Prosecutors said a leaky gas container inside a heater was most likely the cause of the blaze.
A 26-year-old man employed at the escape room was hospitalised with burns and will be questioned.