Germany: 14 dead in fire at training center for disabled people


A firefighter at the scene of the fire at a training center for disabled people in Titisee-Neustadt, southern Germany, on Nov. 26, 2012.


Patrick Seeger

BERLIN, Germany — At least 14 people are dead after a fire swept through a training center for people with disabilities in southwest Germany.

Another seven were injured in the blaze in Titisee-Neustadt, about 25 miles east of Freiburg in the Black Forest region, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Around 50 people were in the two-storey building when the fire started, at around 2 p.m.

BBC News is now reporting that an investigation has revealed that the fire was caused by a gas leak. It is now known that the fire started in one room and did not spread to the entire building. An inquiry into possible charges of manslaughter by negligence has been opened.

Around 300 emergency workers and several helicopters were involved in the rescue operation, according to the Deutsche Press Agentur.

Flames and smoke were said to be seen pouring from the center hours after the fire broke out, while firefighters entered the burning building in breathing apparatus to rescue people trapped inside.

No one was left inside the center by 5 p.m., one official told Der Spiegel.

The center, run by Catholic charity Caritas, provides training in woodwork, metalwork, electronics and other skills for people with mental or physical disabilities.

Both disabled trainees and their tutors were among the 14 victims, a fire department spokesman told local newspaper Badische Zeitung.

"What happened today is a tragedy," said the mayor of Titisee-Neustadt, Armin Hinterseh. "We are deeply saddened."