At least eight people died in a devastating fire in several residential containers in the Czech Republic. The fire broke out around 2 a.m. today and spread quickly, said a spokesman for the Brno fire brigade.
None of the residents could be rescued alive from the inferno. "There was nobody on site that we could have helped," said a spokeswoman for the rescue services.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala expressed his condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the dead. "This is an enormous human tragedy that cannot leave anyone indifferent," Brno Mayor Marketa Vankova wrote on Twitter. The second largest Czech city is around 200 kilometers south-east of Prague.
Firefighters battled the blazes throughout the night. The construction of twelve living containers joined together was dismantled to find hidden nests of embers. The fire was only finally extinguished in the early hours of the morning. Pictures showed that bars were attached to the windows, which prevented escape in this way.
investigations are ongoing
The identity of the dead has yet to be established. One must assume that they were homeless, said a police spokesman for the CTK agency. According to local media reports, the containers had been unused for years on a property not far from a railway station. They were partly covered with tarpaulins and overgrown with weeds.
The police and fire brigade began investigations into the cause of the fire. It will also have to be clarified whether arson was involved. As recently as mid-April, the same decommissioned locomotive had caught fire twice in a row at the nearby train station. Several wagons also went up in flames.
A similar accident happened in Prague in October 2010: nine homeless people died in a nighttime fire in a railway building that was due to be demolished. According to the police, one of the victims was a 40-year-old man who, according to witnesses, caused the fire through negligence. A fire in a children's home in Medenec in November 1984, in which 26 girls died, is considered to be the biggest fire disaster in what is now the Czech Republic.