At Least 12 Dead in France Apartment Fire
PARIS (AP) _ A fire tore through a high-rise apartment building south of Paris early Sunday, killing at least 12 people and injuring 16, firefighters said.
The blaze, the fourth deadly fire in the Paris area since April, broke out in the entrance hall of a 15-story housing project in the Val-de-Marne region south of the capital, the local fire squad said. The fire was quickly extinguished, but people had died from toxic smoke.
About 200 firefighters rushed to the scene after the fire began before dawn in the town of L’Hay-les-Roses, and medical teams set up a mobile treatment site.
At least nine people were seriously injured, said local fire brigade spokesman Alain Antonini. Several were rushed to hospitals in the area.
On Friday, authorities evacuated about 140 squatters from two dilapidated Paris apartment houses considered fire risks, with police moving in over the protests of screaming mothers and the sobs of children.
The evacuations, ordered by Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, followed recent fires that killed dozens of African immigrants in the French capital and put the issue of substandard housing on the national agenda. Police opened an arson investigation Friday into one of the fires, which killed 17 people, 14 of them children, a week ago.
On Saturday, thousands of people marched in Paris to demand better housing for the poor and condemn the eviction plans.