Arson inquiry after fire in Mannheim apartment

18th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Police are investigating whether the fire was deliberately set in the building in which many non-Germans reside.

Mannheim, Germany -- German police were conducting an arson inquiry Wednesday after an overnight fire in the southern city of Mannheim damaged apartment buildings with many non-German residents.

Italians, Turkish and German nationals shared the two blocks of flats.

Mannheim's fire brigade said 21 people, eight of them children, were taken to hospital after inhaling toxic fumes, but there were no fatalities.

Police said they were checking out suspicions that the fire was deliberately lit.

The fire began in a pram parked in one of the basements and was stopped before the flames could spread.

But smoke filled the buildings and 51 people fled. Others were trapped by smoke-filled corridors. Firefighters had to rescue them through windows using ladder trucks and special oxygen hoods that allow people to scramble down smoke-filled stairwells.

Residents reoccupied their apartments after the smoke cleared but one block had no electricity after the fire damaged wiring.

Mannheim is a city of factories and is close to Ludwigshafen, where nine Turkish nationals died in an apartment block fire on Feb. 3.

Prosecutors later ruled out arson or a defect as the cause, saying the fire appeared to have begun through negligence.


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