At least eleven people, including three children, died in a fire in a high-rise building in the Czech city of Bohumín. A fire brigade spokesman said this, according to the CTK intelligence agency. First signs suggest that the fire could have been arson. The police said a suspect has been arrested. It is the worst fire disaster in the Czech Republic since 1990.
Among the fatalities, five people jumped in a panic from a window on the twelfth floor. According to the authorities, 13 people were injured. The fire broke out in an apartment on the 11th floor of the 13-story prefabricated building in the late afternoon, the police said.
The investigators assumed that the fire had been set on purpose, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček told Czech television. "It was probably a neighborhood dispute that had been going on for a long time."
According to the fire department, the flames spread unusually quickly, which indicates a fire accelerator such as gasoline. "There are intensive investigations into the circumstances and causes of this tragic event," said a police spokeswoman.
Last year a prefabricated building burned down in Slovakia
The police chief sees parallels with a case in 2013 in which a man caused a gas explosion in a residential building in another Czech city. He killed himself and five other people, including three children. The man reportedly hated his neighbors.
A similarly serious accident occurred not so long ago in neighboring Slovakia, where eight people were killed in an explosion and fire in a prefabricated building last December.
Bohumín is about 300 kilometers east of Prague on the border with Poland and has a population of almost 21,000. The industrial city is an important rail hub.