Three people feared dead in “very large” apartment, factory fire
One person was reportedly killed and two others are unaccounted for and presumed dead after a fire broke out at 8 a.m. on Sunday in an apartment above an interior furnishings factory and carpentry warehouse in Werkendam near the Beatrixhaven.
Migrant workers were housed in the apartments, as was the son of the company director. A large amount of wood was stored in the commercial area below the apartments.
One family was able to escape the blaze. Initially, it was believed that no others were present in the building at the time the fire broke out. Around 9 a.m. it became clear there were still three people missing. Authorities at the scene said they thought they found the remains of one person, according to local media reports.
The fire was first called in shortly before 8 a.m. The alarm was elevated three times to a “very large fire” before authorities declared a Grip 1 regional emergency to coordinate the response under a single commander. A trauma team was dispatched to the scene by helicopter at about 8:45 a.m.
The director of the company, Dick Hoogendoorn, said he hoped for the best but feared for the worst when the three workers were still missing later in the morning. “That would be terrible”, he said to Omroep Brabant.
“My son was warned by people who live above the company next to the apartment that burnt down. He was also staying at the complex”, Hoogendoorn said.
Emergency crews were still trying to secure the building by 12:30 p.m. to make it possible for firefighters to search for the missing people. The Midden- and West-Brabant emergency services office wrote on social media, "It is still not safe enough for firefighters to enter and search for possible casualties."
The office also warned that smoke from the fire could be dangerous, and asked people along the Sasdijk to get out of harms way. Nearby residents were advised to close their windows and doors, and turn off their ventilation systems if possible.