Ludwigshafen Blaze: Deadly Fire Not Arson, Say Investigators

The inferno that killed nine people of Turkish origin in an apartment house in Ludwigshafen was most likely not an act of arson, a new report on the investigation is said to conclude. Fire experts have not yet determined the origins of the fire, but they have ruled out the possibility of a xenophobic attack, a leading newspaper reports.

A relative of one of the fire victims mourns during a funeral ceremony for the victims of the fire.
AP

A relative of one of the fire victims mourns during a funeral ceremony for the victims of the fire.

The fire that destroyed an apartment house in Ludwigshafen on Feb. 2, killing nine women and children of Turkish origin, was most likely not arson, say investigators. Mass-circulation tabloid Bild on Thursday says that investigators have come to the conclusion that the deadly blaze originated from a smoldering hot spot underneath the steps leading to the building's cellar. The Turkish investigators who flew in to help with the investigation agree with the latest assessment the paper reports, attributing "Bild information."

Investigators remain unsure where the smoldering fire originated, but no evidence of fire accelerants or other signs of arson have been found. In addition, the testimony from two young girls who said they had seen a man in the building's entrance laying a fire has been determined to be false. The hot spot in the basement could have been smoldering for up to three hours before the fire rapidly expanded, ultimately consuming the entire building.

The blaze, which also injured a total of 60 people, quickly expanded into a diplomatic fracas between Germany and Turkey. Information that the building had been daubed with neo-Nazi symbols weeks prior to the inferno and that it had once before been the target of an arson attack led many to assume that the deadly fire was the result of a xenophobic attack on the Turkish residents inside.

Ankara immediately sent their own fire investigators and Turkish press made comparisons to the 1993 neo-Nazi arson attack in Solingen, which left five people of Turkish origin dead. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also made a detour during his previously-planned visit to Germany to see the site of the fire.

Now, though, the tragic incident looks to be much less explosive. Fire investigators have likewise ruled out the possibility of an electrical fire. Immediately after the blaze, some had said that the wiring in the building was old and defective while others accused the residents themselves of illegally tapping power from nearby power lines.

Fire experts who investigated the site postponed a planned press conference on Thursday to announce their findings, but the German news agency DPA, citing no sources, claims that the report's conclusions are final.

cgh/dpa

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