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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
Woman 'admits causing Paris fire'
Firefighters scaling the walls
Police believe the fire was started by accident
A woman detained after last week's fire in a Paris hotel which killed 24 people has admitted that she may have started the blaze by accident, police say.

According to the Paris prosecutor's office, the fire started when she threw a pile of clothes on top of candles lit in the breakfast room after a row.

The 31-year-old woman, identified only as Fatima, was detained on Monday.

Police said she was the girlfriend of one of the hotel's night watchmen, who was injured on the night.

"After a violent dispute... she finally left the hotel, throwing several piles of clothes on the floor in a fit of rage, without paying attention to the candles," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Two more people died in hospital on Tuesday from injuries sustained in the fire, bringing the death toll up to 24.

The fire is believed to have been the deadliest in Paris in 32 years. More than 50 people were injured, 11 seriously.

Half of the dead were the children of families in need, who were temporarily housed at the hotel by the city's social services department.

Old building

Most of the victims were trapped on the upper floors. Some died when they jumped from the windows.

Fire spread quickly through the six-storey building via its wooden staircase.

Emergency services said the hotel had a single entrance - adding that a separate fire exit was not mandatory for older buildings.

Many of the hotel guests were African immigrants waiting to be re-housed.

The Paris Opera is one of many privately-owned hotels used by the social services as temporary housing for families who need urgent help.

The prosecutor's office has opened an investigation for manslaughter.


SEE ALSO:
Eyewitness: Paris hotel blaze
15 Apr 05 |  Europe
In pictures: Paris hotel fire
15 Apr 05 |  In Pictures


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