An early morning fire in a dilapidated building in Paris 13th Arrondissement has left 17 people dead, including 6 children and another 30 injured. The building was one of many in the French capital that have been converted to temporary housing for immigrant families. It mainly housed recent arrivals from Senegal and Mali.
The fire broke out shortly after midnight local time in one of the building’s stairwells and spread quickly. Some 200 firefighters from 22 stations eventually brought the fire under control and managed to rescue some 130 residents. The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined, but authorities are reportedly investigating the possibility that it was deliberately set.
The fire is the latest in a series of fatal blazes that have claimed a number of lives.The most serious one occurred last April when a fire in a hotel near the Paris Opera took 24 lives.
Local authorities and charitable organizations have been trying to improve safety standards in many of the apartment blocks and small hotels that house immigrant families. The lack of affordable housing in Paris frequently results in poor families ending up in overcrowded and unsafe buildings that are in effect accidents waiting to happen.
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