Nine bodies have been found and two more people are feared dead after a fire erupted at a vacation home hosting adults with disabilities in France on Wednesday, local officials said.
The fire broke out around 6:30 a.m. local time (12:30 a.m. ET) at the private cottage in La Forge in Wintzenheim, near the German border, the Haut-Rhin government said in a news release. The cottage was hosting a group of adults on vacation from Nancy.
The site hosted two groups of adults with disabilities and two accompanying associations that help disabled people, the state government said.
Haut-Rhin officials said in their initial press release that 11 people were missing.
Lieutenant-Colonel Philippe Hauwiller, head of the fire rescue operations, told reporters that so far nine bodies have been found but he said it was difficult to find the remaining missing due to the fire’s impact. He said that those staying on the ground floor were able to evacuate quickly when the blaze broke out.
It’s not clear what sparked the fire, he said.
The “violent” fire was under control as of 12 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET), officials said.
Seventeen people were evacuated, one was evacuated to a hospital, and one was “shocked,” the state government said in their initial release.
Haut-Rhin officials said that the fire was brought under control “quickly.” A total of 76 firefighters were deployed, four fire trucks, four ambulances, and three ladders to contain the fire.
“Faced with this tragedy, my thoughts go out to the victims, to the injured, to their loved ones,” French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted Wednesday. “Thank you to our security forces and our mobilized emergency services.”
French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne tweeted that she was headed to the scene following the “terrible fire.”
“My first thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. I salute the mobilization of the firefighters,” she wrote.
Mathieu Klein, the mayor of Nancy, shared his condolences for the victims saying: “I express today my deep sadness and support for the families affected by the terrible fire that took place this morning in Wintzenheim.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.