Six killed in blaze at Paris immigrants' apartments

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The Independent Online

The latest fire comes just days after a deadly blaze killed 17 Africans in the French capital.

Three other people had serious injuries in the fire, which started late yesterday and ripped through a six-story building in central Paris where Ivorian immigrants were living, firefighters said. Some 11 people, including five firefighters, had light injuries.

About 130 firefighters battled the blaze, which burned in a central district of Paris. The fire was believed to have started on the second floor of the building. The cause was not immediately known.

Pierre Aidenbaum, the district mayor, said a dozen families from the Ivory Coast lived in the building, where the conditions were known by authorities to be "absolutely inadmissible and dangerous."

The city government planned to renovate the building and bought it six months ago, Aidenbaum said, adding that he started the process of searching for a place to relocate the families a month ago.

A woman who lived in a nearby building, Elisabeth Sevre, said the tenants were living in "frightening conditions" and that she often saw them taking water from a spigot on the street.

On Friday, 14 children and three adults were killed in a blaze in south-eastern Paris at a rundown apartment building that housed African immigrants. The fire focused attention on the plight of poor immigrants in Paris and drew angry calls for action on behalf of the needy.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy pointed to overcrowding as a reason for the high death toll of that blaze and ordered an inventory of dangerous and overcrowded buildings.