A terrible fire that blazed through a vacation home for people with disabilities in eastern France on Wednesday killed eleven people, with people on the upper levels having little opportunity of escaping. According to Nathalie Kielwasser, deputy prosecutor for Colmar, the individuals who were sleeping on the upper level and in a mezzanine section of the private housing in the Alsacian town of Wintzenheim, were trapped by the fire.
Five managed to escape. In addition she said that twelve people who were staying on the ground floor were also able to escape .
Investigations are ongoing to ascertain the cause of the incident and whether the structure exceeded all of the required safety criteria. According to authorities, one of the survivors was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.
On Wednesday afternoon, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne arrived at the scene. She said she wanted to demonstrate the government’s solidarity for the victims’ families as well as the firefighters and rescuers on the scene.
Lt. Col. Philippe Hauwiller, who was in charge of the firefighters’ rescue efforts, said the fire most likely originated on the home’s upper floor.
The ground level was constructed out of stone, while the top half of the house was made of wood with massive timbers in the customary manner of the region, which may explain why the fire spread so quickly.
According to the Haut-Rhin regional authority, the fire started at 6:30 a.m. Christophe Marot, the secretary general of the local administration says, ten people with disabilities and a person accompanying the group were among the fatalities.
According to a statement from the Haut-Rhin prefecture, many of the visitors came from the eastern French city of Nancy. In an interview with BFM TV station, Mathieu Klein, the mayor of Nancy, where a number of the visitors were from, stressed that the tragedy should not put an end to such vacation excursions.
The deputy said Thursday that required safety criteria were not met at a vacation home housing adults with disabilities where a fire killed 11 people in eastern France. According to Nathalie Kielwasser, Colmar’s deputy prosecutor, the first phase of the investigation revealed that a mandatory safety assessment for such accommodations had not been performed. She told French news network BFM TV that the fire originated on the higher floor, but that the reason had not been discovered.
Disabled people shouldn’t be forgotten when developing emergency plans. We don’t want to be left behind. The safety and well-being of a community should be a priority. If an emergency plan is developed without disabled people in mind, millions of lives are at risk.
Corbet, Sylvie. “Fire at French Vacation Home for Adults with Disabilities Leaves 11 Dead.” AP News, 9 Aug. 2023, apnews.com/article/france-fire-disabled-holiday-wintzenheim-f9596984346f4fc30b831df834e8e705.
“Safety Standards Weren’t Met at French Vacation Home Housing Disabled Adults Where a Fire Killed 11.” ABC News, 10 Aug. 2023, abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/safety-standards-met-fire-killed-11-french-home-102159543.