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Another fire in refugee block

September 7, 2015

Yet another settlement for migrants in Ebeleben in central Germany has caught fire. Prosecutors are looking into political motives behind the disaster that occurred shortly after another blaze in a refugee home.

Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Kahnert

The fire was reported at 0330 am (0130 UTC) on Monday morning from Rockensussra, a part of Ebeleben in Thuringia, where apartment blocks had been readied for housing refugees. Three of the blocks had caught fire and the roofs had collapsed. No one was hurt in the blaze.

Police said there was no possibility of a technical fault because all three roofs had been damaged equally. The State Office of Criminal Investigation had begun examining possible motives for arson.

The Ebeleben administration was preparing for taking in more refugees and had therefore prepared the apartment blocks. The owner of the houses said there was space for 30 refugees initially, and officials were planning to discuss the arrangement with Ebeleben's city council on Monday.

However, the blaze had made the living quarters uninhabitable.

"All three roofs have been damaged so badly, that no one can move in right now," local government spokesman Heinz-Ulrich Thiele told journalists.

A 'cowardly' attack

Thuringia's chief minister Bodo Ramelow condemned the incident in Ebeleben, calling it a "cowardly" attack. People setting fire to migrant shelters were no different from terrorists in the countries from where refugees were fleeing, he added. "These are fire attacks on the basic values of our society," Ramelow told listeners in an interview to German radio broadcaster "Deutschlandfunk."

The fire in Ebeleben follows shortly after a blaze at a migrant shelter in Baden-Württemberg's Rottenburg injured six persons, also on Monday morning. Two refugees suffered fractures after jumping out of the building's windows to escape the fire.

"We know that it is highly possible that the fire began inside the countainer," Karlheinz Neuscheler of the Tübingen district council told reporters.

Monday's incidents follow a series of fires that have broken out in migrant accommodations in Germany in the last few months. Many cases involved targeted attacks against refugees.

Germany has however have been largely welcoming of migrants. Groups of people have been turning out at railway stations and refugee shelters to offer food, drinks and toys for the asylum seekers.

mg/jil (dpa, AFP)

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