Two France house fires kill eight

Two separate fires in a house in northern France and a building outside Paris killed eight people overnight, including five children between the ages of two and 10, officials said on Sunday.

By (AFP)

Published: Sun 31 Mar 2013, 2:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:14 PM

In Saint-Quentin, a town which lies 130 kilometres (80 miles) northeast of Paris, a divorced father who was hosting his children for the weekend jumped out of a first-floor window when flames engulfed his house.

He escaped with light burns but his five children died in the blaze, an official from the local prefecture told AFP, adding that the fire was “most likely accidental”.

Also on Saturday evening, an insalubrious seven-storey building housing squatters in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers caught fire.

One person died after jumping out the window, another burnt to death on the third floor and a third died in hospital, officials said, adding that at least 13 people were injured.

A resident told journalists the blaze had broken out when someone threw a petrol bomb during a brawl between occupants, but investigators could not immediately confirm the fire was criminal.

Housing Minister Cecile Duflot, who went to the scene, said authorities had not been aware of any “particular warning signs” at the 1920s-era building.

But Evelyne Yonnet, deputy mayor for housing in the suburb north of the French capital, said the building was “very badly managed” and had been inhabited by squatters.

“There had been complaints from residents,” she told journalists.

Resident Ali Belmadi said the building, which housed around 60 people when it caught fire, had become “uninhabitable”.

“The situation had been getting worse for five years,” since squatters arrived, he told AFP.

“There were rats, cockroaches, no security,” said another resident named Ghalia.

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