• Germany edition
 
Fire kills 14 at workshop for disabled people
Photo: DPA

Fire kills 14 at workshop for disabled people

Published: 26 Nov 2012 16:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Nov 2012 21:17 GMT+01:00

The fire broke out at 2 pm and was likely caused by an explosion in a storage room at the workshop in Titisee-Neustadt, in the Black Forest area of Baden-Württemberg, according to the police.

"We can tell you that we have 14 dead. The process of identification is ongoing," said Karl-Heinz Schmid, a spokesman for police in the nearby city of Freiburg. "We also have a large number of injured who have been taken to hospital."

What caused the blast is not yet clear – the centre mainly offers training in wood and metal work or fitting electrics.

Firefighters managed to rescue almost everyone in the building – employees generally had mental or physical disabilities. But 14 could not be saved, and died either from burns or smoke inhalation.

There are around 120 people who work in the Titisee-Neustadt centre, 50 of whom were in the building at the time. Police have asked those who were there when the fire broke out to identify themselves.

Around 300 firefighters from neighbouring regions came to help put out the blaze, which took over two hours to extinguish. Authorities were working to determine the cause of the fire. It was not clear whether chemicals were stored in the building, but the workshop's activities included the treatment of wood.

Pictures showed dense smoke billowing out of the three-storey concrete building and firefighters helping the injured, some in wheelchairs, to helicopters and ambulances.

Alexander Widmaier, head of the local fire department, said the alarm was raised at 1:58 pm local time (1258 GMT) and his firefighters were on the scene within six minutes. He said there was a "massive" amount of smoke that filled the building "extremely quickly."

A source close to Caritas, the welfare association that runs the workshop, said there were 50 or 60 people aged between 20 and 65 in the building when the blaze broke out.

In total, the workshop employed some 120 people with disabilities.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the majority were mentally disabled workers who were manufacturing wooden decorations for Christmas as well as other electrical and metal goods.

The building was relatively modern and fully in line with fire regulations, this source stressed. The building was still intact after the blaze was extinguished.

Caritas president Peter Neher said: "We know the colleagues at the scene will do everything to find out the cause for this terrible event."

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted that she was "appalled" by the fire and was receiving updates from Winfried Kretschmann, the state premier of Baden-Württemberg, where the fire took place.

Kretschmann himself said: "My thoughts go out to the victims and my deepest condolences go to their families. The whole of Baden-Wuerttemberg mourns with

them."

Some 25 counsellors were treating relatives of the victims at the scene. The process of identifying the dead was expected to last until the early evening local time. The local Red Cross sent 80 people to lend assistance.

Prosecutors and experts must now investigate the possible causes of the blaze, said a spokesman for the local fire department.

"We are dealing here with people who of course do not react rationally," fire chief Widmaier said.

DPA/AFP/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:46 November 26, 2012 by Zubair Khan
An extremely tragic incident. Almighty may rest the departed souls in peace. Exact reasons must be determined to avoid any repetition in future.
22:03 November 26, 2012 by Kennneth Ingle
Such grievous events always seem to hit those who already have a disadvantage in life, but should such people be allowed to work with dangerous substances? Safety-first does not appear to have been observed by those who are responsible in this case.

Even if this fire was a deliberately started, it would be normal for such a building to have enough emergency exits. In Asia dangerous working conditions are common, that is the reason such countries can produce cheaper goods than Europe. In Germany however, one expects and usually has more than enough rules and regulations to cover danger by fire. My sympathy goes to the injured and the families who were struck by this tragedy.
Today's headlines
Karstadt closes stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kurds watching the attack on Kobane. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pressed UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to bring possible poison gas use by Isis in Iraq before the Security Council. READ  

Spring back in German consumers' step?
Photo: DPA

Spring back in German consumers' step?

Update: Consumer confidence in Germany has stopped falling, as households appear to be no longer fazed by concerns about the economic fallout from geopolitical crises, a new poll found on Friday. READ  

Ludwigshafen explosion kills one, injures 26
An eyewitness captured the moment of the explosion on their phone. Photo: DPA

Ludwigshafen explosion kills one, injures 26

UPDATE: One person has died and 26 others are injured after a huge explosion in Ludwigshafen, western Germany on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,528
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd