Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

OAP home fire kills nine

A fire tore through an old people's home in Belgium, leaving nine people dead and three more in a critical condition.

The fire broke out at around 8pm (7pm BST) at the home in Melle, near Brussels, on Tuesday and quickly sent thick, black smoke through the sprawling building where around 100 elderly residents receive care.

Officials said the fire was probably accidental.

"A piece of equipment overheated or imploded and very quickly there was dense smoke everywhere," said city alderman Frederik De Buck.

Most of the residents on the wing where the fire broke out were already asleep, with their doors open on a day that temperatures topped 30 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit). Only a few on the wing who were still awake were able to get outside in time, Mr De Buck said.

"It is especially the smoke that did it," he said. "A lot of doors were left open because of the hot weather outside."

About 30 people were treated for breathing difficulties after they escaped the blaze, said provincial governor Andre Denys. Two firefighters and two emergency workers were also treated for breathing difficulties.

Police said they were still investigating the cause of the fire.

When emergency crews arrived, they had to treat many on the lawn outside. The fire brigade called in help from the nearby city of Ghent to handle the blaze, which was quickly put out.

Melle, a city of about 10,000 people, is about 30 miles west of Brussels.

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