Kamień Pomorski homeless hostel fire

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Charred remains of the homeless shelter in Kamień Pomorski, Poland.

The Kamień Pomorski homeless hostel fire occurred in north-western Poland at 00:30 local time (23:30 UTC[1]) on 13 April 2009. The fire occurred during the night at a three-story homeless hostel in Kamień Pomorski (West Pomeranian Voivodeship), a town with a population of 10,000[2] situated approximately 60 kilometres or 37 miles from the German border. 23 people, including 13 children [1] were pronounced dead, with a further 20 sustaining an injury of some sort.[1][3] The hostel was completely destroyed[3] and the corpses of many people were charred beyond recognition in a fire that the BBC called "one of the deadliest in living memory".[1] It was Poland's deadliest fire since a fire destroyed a home for the mentally ill in Górna Grupa in 1980 claiming the lives of 55 victims.[2]

Hostel[edit]

The hostel, originally a workers' hotel, was previously described as an unsafe building.[1] It was a three-story structure built in the early 1970s.[1] Survivors have reported that this was not the first fire to occur at the hostel.[4]

Incident[edit]

Polish firefighters searching for victims.

At least seventy-seven people were sheltered in the building while waiting to be provided with alternative housing.[1][3][5][6] Six children were listed as dead, including an eight-month-old infant.[2][7] One individual was listed as having sustained "serious injuries".[3]

Firefighters were stationed nearby and despite a quick response arrived to find four-fifths of the hostel already in flames with hallways blocked by thick black smoke.[2]

Many of the survivors jumped out of the building, because the available rescue ladders could only reach the first floor.[3] Children were taken from their beds by their parents and hurled through windows as firefighters and onlookers grabbed them and brought them to safety.[1][2] Common injuries as a result of the fire include burns,[1] smoke inhalation,[1] and fractured bones.[2][5][6] Many of the corpses were charred beyond recognition.[1] Some of the casualties were visiting the building and were not necessarily permanently housed there.[4]

Images broadcast on television showed "huge flames reaching high into the sky above the roof"[3] and the "charred, gutted shell" of the hostel.[6] Several hours were spent extinguishing the fire, with twenty-one fire crews on hand to assist.[1]

Reaction[edit]

Three days of national mourning were declared in Poland to begin at midnight following the fire.[1][2][6][8] The country's Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, who was on an Easter holiday like many of the victims,[5] flew to Kamień Pomorski, promising new housing and aid for the survivors.[1] The country's President, Lech Kaczyński, also made an appearance.[1]

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev sent a letter of condolence to Kaczyński. "On behalf of the people of Azerbaijan and on my own behalf, I offer sincere condolences to you and the people of Poland and wish recovery to the injured", said Aliyev.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Fire in Polish hostel 'kills 21'". BBC News. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Children thrown from windows as Polish hostel fire kills 21". The Daily Telegraph. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "21 killed in fire at Polish hostel". RTÉ News. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  4. ^ a b "21 dead as fire guts Polish hostel". ABC News. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  5. ^ a b c "At least 18 people killed in fire accident in Poland". Xinhua News Agency. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Hostel fire kills 21 in Poland". Irish Examiner. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  7. ^ "21 die in Polish hostel fire". Irish Independent. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  8. ^ "At least 21 dead in Poland hostel fire". The Irish Times. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  9. ^ "President of Azerbaijan offers condolences to his Polish counterpart". Trend. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 53°57′33″N 14°46′39″E / 53.95917°N 14.77750°E / 53.95917; 14.77750