Fire Kills 8 at Czech Disabled People’s Home

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
January 20, 2020International
Fire Kills 8 at Czech Disabled People’s Home
Firefighters walking up to a house where eight people with mental and combined impairments died and another three were seriously injured in a fire Vejprty, Czech Republic, on Jan. 19, 2020. (Slavomir Kubes/CTK/AP)

Eight male residents were killed at a fire in a home for disabled people in the Czech Republic on Sunday morning, while 30 other people were injured.

The fire broke shortly before 5 a.m. out at the institution in the city of Vejprty, 60 miles northwest of the capital Prague on the border with Germany, and killed eight people, most likely due to smoke inhalation.

Some 30 people were injured, with three still in hospital. Two of them are in critical condition, the BBC reported.

The building housed 38 people in total; 35 predominantly male residents with mental disorders and other impairments, and three staff members.

The cause of the fire has not yet been established, but it started in one room and spread to two others, according to The New York Times, which based its information on the Czech newspaper Dennik N.

Broken windows of a home for people with learning disabilities are pictured after a fire broke out in the boys’ section of the building in Vejprty village, Czech Republic, on Jan. 19, 2020. (Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)

Firefighters from nearby Germany offered help but rescue operations were hindered by bad weather. No helicopters could be deployed to transport the patients to nearby hospitals.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis who visited the site said the government is doing whatever it can to help.

Visiting the site, Czech Prime Minister called the fire a “huge tragedy.”

“I’m here to find out how the government can help and what to do to prevent such a tragedy in the future,” Babis said, according to The Associated Press.

Vejprty fire 2
People wait outside a home for people with disabilities which was affected by a fire, in Vejprty, Czech Republic, on Jan. 19, 2020 (Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images)

Vejprty Mayor Jitka Gavdunova said, “It is, for our city, a great tragedy because clients of the home… are part of our city,” the BBC reported.

The mayor added that safety standards were above legal standards but there were no sprinklers installed in the area where the fire broke out. She also said that in the past people had attempted to set fire to the building before but were unsuccessful.

However, she said the home was understaffed.

Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Jana Malacova said she would adapt the law to counter the understaffing problem.

“We want there to be a maximum of 13 clients per carer. I think it will help a lot in such critical situations,” she said, according to the BBC. Malacova also promised the government will help to rebuild the facility.

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