France house fire kills 5 children


Forensic experts leave a house where a fire killed five children aged between 2 and 10, on March 31, 2013 in Saint-Quentin.



Five children were killed in a house fire in northern France.

The fire occurred in Saint-Quentin, a town about 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Paris, and early reports showed that it appeared to be accidental.

A divorced father had his children — between the ages of two and 10 — for the weekend when he had to jump from a first-floor window to get help as flames took over his house.

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The father escaped with light burns, but by the time emergency services arrived, the home was not safe to enter and the five children's bodies were found after the blaze had been put out.

In a separate incident on the same night, a seven-story building in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers that housed squatters also caught fire.

Residents reported hearing disputes in the building before the fire broke out shortly after 10 p.m. local time, starting on the third floor and spreading to the fourth.

One resident told journalists the blaze started when someone threw a gas bomb during a fight between occupants, but investigators could not immediately confirm that detail.

One person died after jumping from a window, another burnt to death on the third floor where the fire started, and a third person died in hospital. At least 13 people were also injured, four of them critically.

The building was said to be "uninhabitable."

"The situation had been getting worse for five years," since squatters arrived, resident Ali Belmadi told Agence France-Presse.