At least nine people dead, two missing, in fire at French home for disabled

A fire that tore through a holiday home housing disabled people in eastern France killed at least nine people, while two others were still missing and presumed dead.

The blaze broke out early on Wednesday and ravaged the two-storey building in the town of Wintzenheim, about 70 kilometres south of Strasbourg.

Among those dead or missing, 10 had disabilities and one was a carer, officials said.

The holiday home was rented for the summer by two charities that take care of people with learning disabilities.

Twenty eight people were staying there, and 17 of them managed to escape the fire, officials said.

“A few of the people who were (sleeping) on the first floor managed to escape, but most of those who got out were on the ground floor,” Lieutenant Colonel Philippe Hauwiller, who headed the rescue operations, told reporters.

The remains of nine people who were unable to leave the building had been recovered, he said, adding “two cannot be found for now”.

The fire destroyed about two-thirds of the building.

The early onset of the blaze and its quick spread meant that “people were caught in their sleep,” Wintzenheim deputy mayor Daniel Leroy told BFM TV.

He said those missing were likely to have been aged between 25 and 50.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who visited the area, said earlier in a social media post: “My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.”

President Emmanuel Macron spoke of a “tragedy”.

Earlier, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin also said, without giving details, there were likely several casualties after the fire ravaged 300 square metres of the 500-square-metre building.

Seventeen people were evacuated, one of who was sent to hospital, the local prefecture said.

It said those missing were from a group of people from the city of Nancy, a two-hour drive away.

The fire broke out at 6.30am (0430 GMT) and fire brigades quickly put out the fire, the prefecture said.


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