Many problems in retirement home; four dead from fire

Fire damaged retirement home in Nijmegen (Picture: Twitter/@JohanKoudijs)Fire damaged retirement home in Nijmegen (Picture: Twitter/@JohanKoudijs)

Many of the necessary fire measures were lacking in the Nijmegen retirement home that caught fire on February 20th, the Gelderland-Zuid fire department and municipality announced in a press conference last night. Four of the retirement home's elderly residents have died from injuries obtained during the fire.

Some of the smoke doors in the building were not sound, which allowed a lot of smoke spread through the building. The victims and injured all had injuries related to smoke inhalation, NRC reports. The central staircase of the complex was unusable because of the thick smoke and the fire. The emergency staircase on one side of the building stopped on the first floor. That resulted in most of the elderly residents of that wing of the building not being able to go outside. Firefighters had to rescue more than 40 people from the building. Almost all of them inhaled toxic smoke.

The fire started in the fuse box of the snack bar situated under the retirement home. The fire hit a central ventilation duct that ends on the roof of the complex. It took the fire department five hours to get the fire under control. The snack bar met all the requirements.

The municipality has commissioned the Fire Academy to investigate whether the owner of the complex can be held responsible for the property's shortcomings.

The snack bar was completely destroyed during the fire The whole complex may need to be demolished. The Public Prosecutor is conducting an investigation into the fire, and restorations can not start until that investigation is done. It may still take many months before the 94 residents of the 71 apartments in the complex can return to their homes.