2nd Paris Fire in 4 Days Kills 7

August 30, 2005

Another fatal building fire erupted in Paris on Monday night, Aug. 29, claiming 7 lives and injuring 14, three seriously. The fire in the French capital’s Marais District of the 3rd Arrondissement, broke out around 10:00 p.m. local time in a dilapidated building housing immigrant families from Africa.

It was the second fatal building fire in Paris in 4 days. On Friday 17 people died, including 14 children and another 30 were injured an early morning fire in a dilapidated building in Paris 13th Arrondissement (See IJ Website, Aug. 26). A hotel fire in April killed 24 people, most of them also African immigrants.

The series of fires has been blamed on the poor condition of the buildings, many of which have had no maintenance for years. They are used by local authorities and charitable organizations to house immigrant families, the large majority from former French Colonies in Africa. The housing is supposed to be temporary, as authorities search for a more permanent solution, but many people have been in the increasingly unsafe buildings for decades.

Pierre Aidenbaum, the Socialist Mayor of the 3rd Arrondissement noted that there had been 12 families, around 40 persons, all from the Ivory Coast, housed in the building, and that his administration “had complained for several years that the conditions there were totally unacceptable.”

As if it needed to be said, Paris’ Mayor Betrand Delanoë commented: “There’s a very serious problem of dilapidated buildings in Paris.” When he took over as mayor, his administration identified over a 1000 such sites; however, it doesn’t appear that Delanoë or anyone else has done much about improving the unhealthy, unsanitary and dangerous conditions in which many immigrant families in Paris and other French cities continue to live.

Perhaps the three fatal fires in four months will finally bring enough pressure on French authorities to begin finding real solutions to the problem of immigrant housing.

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