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Deadly fire at migrant hostel near Paris

December 16, 2016

A fire that broke out at a hostel for 300 migrant workers in a Paris suburb has killed one man and injured at least 14 others. Police have not ruled out arson as they investigate the incident.

Frankreich Brand Unterkunft für Migranten
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Bernatas

At least one person was killed and 14 injured on Friday after a fire broke out at a home for migrant workers in the Boulogne-Billancourt suburb of Paris. The Nanterre prosecutors' office said the fire started in the early hours of the morning.

At least 300 people lived in the six-story building. French police said they had not ruled out arson as a cause of the blaze.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve promised to investigate and expressed his "solidarity" with the victims in a message posted on Twitter.

One fireman told broadcaster "BFM-TV" that six of the injured survivors had been rescued from "certain death" after being trapped on the upper floors of the building. The other residents were successfully evacuated, authorities said.

According to French news agency AFP, the one fatality came when a 40-year-old man from Mali jumped to his death as he was trapped by the flames. However, conflicting reports said the man died of fire-related injuries after being rescued. 

Police also told AFP that the cause of the fire "appears to be criminal in nature," as they found traces of lighter fluid and fuel near the building.

The residents were mostly of Afghan, Sudanese and Eritrean origin. They had recently been relocated to the charity-run home as part of a program to get asylum seekers off the streets.

France has seen a number of attacks on refugee accommodation since the country began to close down makeshift camps like the famous Calais "jungle" in favor of more permanent, state, or NGO-regulated housing.

es/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)