Paris — A fire ripped through a vacation home for adults with disabilities in eastern France on Wednesday, killing at least nine people, the head of rescue operations said.

Lt. Col. Philippe Hauwiller, who was leading the rescue work of firefighters, said crews were searching for the bodies of two others who were feared dead in the fire. Authorities said 17 people were evacuated, including one who was sent to a hospital with serious injuries.

Eleven missing after fire in vacation home in eastern France
Firefighters battle a blaze that broke out in a vacation home used by a group of people with disabilities, in Wintzenheim, France, August 9, 2023.

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Hauwiller said only those who were staying on the ground floor of the private accomodation in the town of Wintzenheim were able to escape the fire, which the local administration of the Haut-Rhin region said broke out at 6:30 a.m. The 11 remaining occupants were trapped on the upper floor and in a mezzanine area that collapsed, according to Hauwiller.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on social media that she was heading to the site of the fire.

Christophe Marot, the secretary general of the local administration, said on news broadcaster France Info that the vacationers included adults with “slight intellectual disabilities.” Ten people with disabilities and and a person accompanying the group were believed to be among the dead.

FRANCE-FIRE
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire that erupted at a home for disabled people in Wintzenheim, eastern France, August 9, 2023.

SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty


The fire department deployed 76 firefighters, 4 fire engines, 4 ambulances to contain the blaze and treat the victims. Forty police officers were also mobilized.

The fire was quickly brought under control, the statement said.