Prague, 19 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – At least eight people have been killed in a fire in a home for the handicapped in the Czech Republic on the border with Germany.
Some three dozen people were injured, several of them seriously, a spokesman for the emergency services told dpa on Sunday. Many residents of the home suffered from smoke inhalation.
Thirty people were treated on site, of whom 17 were taken to nearby hospitals.
One of the patients taken to hospital is in an intensive care unit, regional health spokesman Ivo Chrastecky told CTK news agency. Another patient had to be intubated, while yet another underwent surgery for burns, Chrastecky said.
The fire broke out in the home in the small town of Vejprty early in the morning, shortly before 5 am (0400 GMT), for an as yet unexplained reason.
The town is located in the administrative region of Usti in the north-west of the Czech Republic bordering directly on the Saxon community of Baerenstein in the Ore Mountains district.
The emergency services declared it a major incident, with seven ambulances arriving at the scene, including two from Germany. A helicopter could not take off due to the bad weather conditions.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis hurried to the scene. The politician spoke on Twitter of a “terrible tragedy.” Other Czech politicians also expressed their condolences to the bereaved.
Interior Minister Jan Hamacek assured that “the causes of the tragic fire in Vejprty are being properly investigated.”
The survivors of the accident would be given temporary accommodation in other homes.
The criminal police have started an investigation into the cause of the fire.
Smoke detectors were only installed in the toilets because residents went there to smoke, the mayor of the town, Jitka Gavdunova, said at a press conference.
The fire broke out in a common room.
Smoke detectors in the Czech Republic are only required by law in new residential buildings.