09
Fri, Dec

Paris fire: Eight dead in city apartment building

A fire in an apartment building in northern Paris has killed eight people, including two children, French officials say.The blaze in the 18th district of the French capital broke out in the early hours of Wednesday, and it took more than 100 firefighters to contain it.

Four survivors - some of whom are in a critical condition - are in hospital.

The cause of the fire in the building, located at the foot of the famed Montmartre hill, is being investigated.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said it was "too early to determine the causes of this tragedy", according to the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, criminal prosecutors are now leading the investigation at 4 rue Myrha, suggesting that the fire may have been started deliberately.

Fire crews were first called to the scene at about 02:20 local time (00:20 GMT) and quickly put out the blaze, but they were then called back again two hours later to extinguish a second, much larger fire, AFP says.

"It's clear that when you have two call-outs in the same night... this could be a malicious act," interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

The larger blaze is believed to have started on the ground floor before quickly spreading into the stairwell and then upper floors.

Some of the residents reportedly attempted to escape through windows.

The fire broke out in a private building, not a block of flats for low-income families, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said.

She added that about 15 other buildings in the area had been affected by the blaze.

This is believed to be one of the deadliest fires in the French capital in the last decade.

In a statement, French President Francois Hollande said: "Everything is being done to shed light on the cause of this tragedy."