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11 dead after fire at French vacation home for adults with disabilities

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PARIS — A devastating fire that raged through a vacation home for adults with disabilities in eastern France Wednesday left 11 people dead, the local deputy prosecutor said.

Nathalie Kielwasser, deputy prosecutor for Colmar, said 11 people who were sleeping on the upper floor and in a mezzanine area of the private accommodation in the town of Wintzenheim were trapped by the fire, while five managed to escape.

Some 12 people who were staying on the ground floor were able to evacuate, she said.

The adults, who had “slight intellectual disabilities,” were on a vacation sponsored by two specialized associations, she added.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the circumstances of the fire and whether the building met all the required security standards, she added.

Authorities said one of the survivors was sent to a hospital with serious injuries.

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French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne arrived at the scene on Wednesday afternoon. She said she wanted to show the government’s support for the families of the victims and for the firefighters and rescuers on site.

Lt. Col. Philippe Hauwiller, who was leading the rescue work of firefighters, said the fire likely started on the home’s upper floor.

The ground floor was made of stone and the upper part of the building was built entirely of wood in the traditional style of the region, which 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. Christophe Marot, the secretary general of the local administration, said on news broadcaster France Info that 10 people with disabilities and a person accompanying the group were believed to be among the dead.

Many of the visitors came from the city of Nancy in eastern France, a statement from the Haut-Rhin prefecture said.

No other information about the victims was provided.

The fire department deployed 76 firefighters, four fire engines and four ambulances to contain the blaze and treat the victims. Forty police officers were also mobilized. The fire was brought under control Wednesday morning.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter: “In the face of this tragedy, my thoughts are with the victims, the injured and their families. Thank you to our security forces and emergency services.”

AP writer Youcef Bounab in Paris contributed to the story.

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