Page last updated at 23:37 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 00:37 UK

Deadly fire at Belgian care home

Residents evacuated in Melle
The residents were initially evacuated to a nearby hall in Melle

Nine people have been killed in a fire at a retirement home in the northern Belgian town of Melle, officials say.

The fire broke out around 2000 (1800 GMT) at the Kanunnik Triest home, which houses about 90 residents, sending thick smoke throughout the facility.

Three more residents are in a critical condition. Four rescue workers were taken to hospital after inhaling fumes.

A nurse told the newspaper, De Standaard, that the fire was caused by an overheating fan on the first floor.

"A piece of equipment overheated or imploded and very quickly there was dense smoke everywhere," local councillor Frederik De Buck later told the Associated Press.


Mr De Buck said most of the people living in the wing where the fire broke out had been asleep at the time. It appeared that only those who had still been awake were able to escape in time, he added.

"It was especially the smoke that did it," Mr De Buck said. "A lot of doors were left open because of the hot weather outside."

By the time the emergency services arrived at the scene, flames were leaping out of the windows and it was impossible to reach some of the victims, witnesses said.

Firefighters have said the fire is now under control. Occupants of the home who were unaffected have been moved to a nearby facility.

Melle is some 10km (six miles) from the centre of Ghent and has a population of about 10,000.


Aftermath of the fire at the Kanunnik Triest home in Melle

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