Czech Republic: Apartment building on fire in Romani neighborhood, 20 injured, including children
In the Předlice quarter of Ústí nad Labem 20 people are injured after an apartment building caught fire there this morning. Most of those injured are suffering from smoke inhalation.
Police spokesperson Veronika Hyšplerová said somebody driving past just before 6:30 called the emergency services. "There were 18 people evacuated, most of them children," she said.
Emergency services spokesperson Prokop Voleník said the 20 people injured - 11 children and nine adults - were taken to hospitals in nearby Děčín, Teplice, and in Ústí nad Labem itself. "The injuries were mostly smoke inhalation, both mild and severe," he said.
"Two children were severely poisoned and taken to the intensive care unit at Masaryk Hospital," Voleník said. Ivo Chrástecký, spokesperson for the Regional Health Service, said the hospital in Ústí nad Labem is caring for 13 people, seven of them adults.
"The severity of their state can be assessed as mild and after being examined and inhaling oxygen they will be released. Six of the children brought here in critical condition are being intensively cared for by the children's clinic at Masaryk Hospital," Chrástecký said.
The fire began at about 6 AM and took firefighters approximately 40 minutes to contain, according to the commander in charge of the response for the regional firefighters, who said the intervention was a demanding one. "The corridor was full of smoke, until the last moment it wasn't known how many people were there," said the commander of the firefighters' intervention, Michal Nejedlý.
"When the guys got inside and began to look for people they found many adults and children. The first thing they did was to get the kids out, four of them had to be resuscitated, their lives were in danger," Nejedlý said.
"The children were located above the room that was on fire. They had two little rooms there that functioned as places to sleep," Nejedlý said..
Detectives will now investigate the cause of the blaze. According to the cadastral office, the building belongs to a company in Prague.
Karel Karika (PRO!Ústí), vice-chair of the central municipal district council, said the owner is taking care of the tenants. "We found them accommodations, but they won't be necessary," he said.
"The owner of the building that caught fire will provide those people accommodation in another building that they also own nearby," Karika said. According to the information he has from the administrator of the building, at least some of the people there at the time of the blaze were not supposed to be.
"The people who were transported to hospital were not registered there and according to the administrator they should not have been in the building at all. The building is being prepared for repairs," Karika said.
Five firefighting units and five ambulances responded to the scene this morning. Traffic is completely blocked on the street due to the response and trolleybus lines have been re-routed.
Předlice is considered a socially excluded locality and most of the buildings were privatized there years ago, many of which have changed owners repeatedly. Today's fire apparently began on the second floor of the small three-story building.
Some people escaped to the roof of the building. "I had to run onto the roof," the local Ústecký deník daily reported a survivor of the incident saying.
"I had my documents there, my money. The boy of one of our friends was burning some wood," the survivor alleged.
"We were sleeping above it, suddenly we smelled smoke and saw the flames. We couldn't get out of the building," he said, while another resident of the building speculated to the local press that a flaw in the electrical wiring could have started the fire.
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