Saturday, April 16, 2005
A Paris fire in a hotel killed 22 people, 10 of whom were children, while injuring 53 — 11 seriously. The hotel was an overcrowded, budget accommodation type of housing. Most of the inhabitants were African, many housed by social services, according to an Associated Press report.
The 32 room, six-story Paris Opera hotel, was made to house 61 guests, but 90 were staying at the time of the fire, with 84 of them placed by city or state social services.
The fire is thought to have started in the breakfast room at 2:20 am Friday, local time.
Along with the Africans, who were mostly refugees, others wounded included French, Senegalese, Portuguese, Americans, Ukrainians, and Tunisians, according to a report from Turkish Zaman.com. The hotel is situated near to La Galerie Lafayette, Printemps shopping center, and Paris Opera.
It took nearly 250 fire-fighters to control the fire, and the number of casualties was high because of the single exit.
“It’s hard in that kind of situation to tell people to calm down. They jumped. People on the first floor threw their children out the windows,” Alfred Millot, head of the fire service at the nearby upmarket Galeries Lafayette department store, told Agence France-Presse.
“With our own equipment, we started fighting the fire from the ground floor. I came running and people were already jumping through the windows,” said Millot.
His store warehouse was used as a temporary morgue. Families were counselled and assisted in re-uniting by the Red Cross.