An investigation is underway into the cause of a fire which killed nine people at a retirement home in the northern Belgian town of Melle.
The fire sent thick smoke billowing through the building. At least one resident remain in a critical condition and four rescue workers are being treated for smoke inhalation which appears to have been the cause of the fatalities. Melle is 10 kilometres from the centre of Ghent. By the time the emergency services arrived flames had engulfed much of the building making it impossible to reach some of the victims. The home’s management team insists every precaution had been taken. The Kannunik Triest home’s Director Geert Buyse said: “At the beginning of June we had a fire drill together with the fire department of Melle. We practised an evacuation on the same floor where the fire took place. At the time we also evacuated residents to see how we should do it in case of emergency. So yesterday we knew exactly what to do. Otherwise the death toll could have been higher.” Only those who were awake at the time of the blaze were able to escape. As relatives of the victims struggle to come to terms with the tragedy, investigators believe the fire could have been started by a malfunctioning fan.