Velddriel fire leaves 17 people homeless, including pregnant woman and newborn baby

A Dutch Firetruck in action on the heathland near Ede P.J.L Laurens/Wikimedia Commons. ()

A massive fire in a monumental building on Voorstraat in Velddriel early on Sunday morning largely destroyed the homes of 17 people, including a week old baby and a pregnant woman. A cannabis plantation was discovered during the extinguishing of the fire, the police confirmed. Whether the plantation was responsible for the fire is not yet clear.

The fire started around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. The building is currently uninhabitable, Omroep Gelderland reports. The back side of the building sustained significant damage - the roof collapse and most of the windows are broken. 

"The monumental building consists of two homes", a neighbor explained to the broadcaster. "In one the owner lived in the front and nine migrant workers in the back, including a family with a week-old baby. What a drama for such a family." The other home housed a family with adult children and their grandmother. The eldest daughter is pregnant. "We've lost everything", the pregnant woman said to the broadcaster. "Nothing is left of the baby room."

The police arrested a 69-year-old resident of the building in connection with the cannabis plantation. He is suspected of breaking the Opium law and is in custody for further investigation. Velddriel mayor Henny van Kooten said that two cannabis plantations were found in the building, though the police did not confirm this. According to the police, no one was hurt in the fire. 

The mayor went to the site of the fire on Sunday morning. "We offered the residents a hotel, but they all chose to go to family and friends. As municipality, we are responsible for shelter for two days, after that the owner", he said to Omroep Gelderland.