The day after, the residential building number 30 was abandoned and destroyed on Harrisleer Strasse in Flensburg. The beige facade is charred, the windows are partially destroyed, the roof truss is just a skeleton. The three-story building is uninhabitable. Tape blocks it off. "Brand. Crime scene. It's confiscated! No entry!" reads bright red stickers on the front door. The home of 43 men, women and children fell victim to the flames that hit the windows on Thursday afternoon (the star reported).
The fjord city is in shock the day after. There is grief for a four-year-old boy and his 70-year-old grandmother who did not survive the fire. And there is the horror of what happened on the street during the fire. But there are also: humanity, caring, helpfulness.
The emergency call reached the fire brigade at around 4:50 p.m., eight minutes later the first emergency services are on site, there will be around 120 in the end. "When the fire brigade arrived, we found that an apartment building was fully engulfed in fire and several people were still in the building," says fire brigade operations manager Marco Litzkow of the DPA news agency. The rescuers immediately start extinguishing the fire and enter the building - but soon have to leave it again. The stairs to the floors have collapsed, the stairwell is no longer accessible, the danger for the helpers is too great. The fire spreads through the house in no time. From the outside, the fire brigade tries to become master of the flames. He can't remember an operation like this, says Flensburg's fire chief Carsten Herzog that evening.
What nobody knows at the beginning of the operation: Two people cannot make it out of the building. The fire brigade was not even able to recover the dead bodies of the child and the elderly woman in the first few hours. Other residents of the house can get to safety. "Some were only able to save themselves and their children by jumping out of the windows," writes the "Flensburger Tageblatt". Even before the fire brigade arrives at the scene of the fire, residents of Harrisleer Strasse rush over to write a heroic story. They bring in mattresses and a container so that the trapped people can jump on them and escape the flames.
Dramatic scenes must have taken place. Flensburg's fire chief says what his colleagues tell him: "People trying to save themselves. People who lived nearby or came from the house and tried to save others." Stacked mattresses in front of the beige house at number 30 are silent witnesses to this heroic story the next morning.
But there is another story. It causes bewilderment among the emergency services and Flensburg's Mayor Fabian Geyer (independent). More and more onlookers flock to Harrisleer Strasse as the extinguishing work progresses, there are said to be more than a hundred, the police finally cordon off the area. Most wanted to help, says the fire chief, but not all. Some let go of all inhibitions. "But there were also onlookers and people who made videos that later circulated on the Internet."
Mayor Geyer becomes clear in the face of the irreverent gawking and filming: "You're caught up in the feelings between incomprehension, anger, anger, speechlessness, that people (...) when others are fighting for their lives (...) enjoy it have to film it and put it online." It has nothing to do with how a civilized society should behave. It is intolerable. The police announce that they will examine criminal prosecution.
In the end, the fire brigade counted nine injured in addition to the two dead. They are being treated in the hospital, according to the Norddeutscher Rundfunk, three of them are in the intensive care unit. Two injured can leave the clinic until Friday morning. Nobody is in mortal danger. The survivors can stay in emergency shelters. Your home, your belongings are destroyed.
The cause of the devastating fire was still unclear the day after. "There is no evidence of third-party fault or a xenophobic motive," the police said. Experts are to investigate the burnt ruins. In the past year there had repeatedly been wanton fires in residential buildings in Flensburg, causing unrest in the city. The police arrested several suspects and the number of fires went down.
The day after the fire in Harrisleer Strasse, Schleswig-Holstein's Minister of the Interior, Sabine Sütterlin-Waack (CDU), came to Flensburg. She speaks of a "terrible tragedy". "My thoughts are with the relatives of the dead and the injured who were able to escape from the house," she told the DPA. She thanks the helpers from the fire brigade, technical relief organization and police - and the other heroes of Flensburg. "But I would also like to thank the people who helped the residents to get out of the building to safety."
Sources: Flensburg Police Department, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, "Flensburger Tageblatt", DPA news agency