Kamień Pomorski homeless hostel fire
|Date||April 13, 2009|
|Location||Kamień Pomorski, Poland|
The Kamień Pomorski homeless hostel fire occurred in north-western Poland at 00:30 local time (23:30 UTC) 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 situated approximately 60 kilometres or 37 miles from the German border. 23 people, including 13 children  were pronounced dead, with a further 20 sustaining an injury of some sort. The hostel was completely destroyed and the corpses of many people were charred beyond recognition in a fire that the BBC called "one of the deadliest in living memory". 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.
The hostel, originally a workers' hotel, was previously described as an unsafe building. It was a three-story structure built in the early 1970s. Survivors have reported that this was not the first fire to occur at the hostel.
At least seventy-seven people were sheltered in the building while waiting to be provided with alternative housing. Six children were listed as dead, including an eight-month-old infant. One individual was listed as having sustained "serious injuries".
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.
Many of the survivors jumped out of the building, because the available rescue ladders could only reach the first floor. Children were taken from their beds by their parents and hurled through windows as firefighters and onlookers grabbed them and brought them to safety. Common injuries as a result of the fire include burns, smoke inhalation, and fractured bones. Many of the corpses were charred beyond recognition. Some of the casualties were visiting the building and were not necessarily permanently housed there.
Images broadcast on television showed "huge flames reaching high into the sky above the roof" and the "charred, gutted shell" of the hostel. Several hours were spent extinguishing the fire, with twenty-one fire crews on hand to assist.
Three days of national mourning were declared in Poland to begin at midnight following the fire. The country's Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, who was on an Easter holiday like many of the victims, flew to Kamień Pomorski, promising new housing and aid for the survivors. The country's President, Lech Kaczyński, also made an appearance.
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pożar hotelu w Kamieniu Pomorskim.|
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- "Children thrown from windows as Polish hostel fire kills 21". The Daily Telegraph. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-04-13.
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- "President of Azerbaijan offers condolences to his Polish counterpart". Trend. 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-05-01.