PARIS (AP) — Required safety standards weren’t met at a vacation home housing adults with disabilities at which a fire killed 11 people in eastern France, a deputy prosecutor said Thursday.
A day earlier, the fire killed 10 adults with slight intellectual disabilities and one person accompanying them.
Nathalie Kielwasser, the deputy prosecutor of Colmar, said the first phase of the investigation showed that a mandatory safety inspection for such accommodations had not been done.
Speaking on French news broadcaster BFM TV, she said the fire started from the upper floor, but its cause has not been determined.
The large vacation house in the Alsacian town of Wintzenheim was equipped for 28 people, including 12 on the ground floor and 16 on the upper floor, with smoke detectors, she added.
The building was rented to groups of people by a private owner, who was not identified. It was not specifically dedicated to disabled people.
The disabled adults were on a vacation sponsored by two specialized associations. The ground floor of the building was made of stone and the upper part was constructed of wood with heavy timbers in the traditional style of the region — a factor that might partly explain why the fire spread so quickly.
The local administration of the Haut-Rhin region said the fire broke out at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Only five of those who were sleeping on the upper floor managed to escape, authorities said. All 12 people who were staying on the ground floor were able to evacuate.
No details about the victims were provided. Investigators were working on identifying the bodies with DNA testing, Kielwasser said.
Fadila Khattabi, minister for disabled people, went to the site on Thursday and met with families of victims who were “in a state of shock,” she said.
“We must tell all the truth to the families,” she said.
It was the deadliest fire in France since an August 2016 blaze that killed 14 people in a basement nightclub in the western city of Rouen.