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Fire at French vacation home for adults with disabilities kills at least 9

This graphic shows the location of a fire that broke out early on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023 in a holiday home for people with disabilities, in Wintzenheim, eastern France. (AP Photo/Jennifer Magno)

PARIS (AP) — 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.

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 X, formerly known as Twitter, 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.

The group usually lives in the city of Nancy, in eastern France, the statement from the Haut-Rhin prefecture said. “The building was being used … for their vacation,” it added.

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

The fire was brought under control, the statement said.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on X: “In the face of this tragedy, my thoughts are with the victims, the injured and their families. Thank you to our security forces and emergency services.”