ROUEN: A fire sparked by birthday cake candles tore through a bar in northern France early Saturday, killing at least 13 people in the nation’s deadliest blaze in over a decade, investigators said.
Through the shattered front windows of the Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen melted stools and scorched liquor bottles were visible, as tearful mourners hugged each other and brought flowers to the scene.
The dead were between aged between 16 and 25. One of the six injured was in a life threatening condition in hospital. Authorities said the bar had been crowded with young partygoers.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed “deep sadness at the tragedy that claimed 13 young lives”.
Local deputy prosecutor Laurent Labadie told AFP the blaze, which began around midnight in the bar’s basement, was triggered accidentally.
“Someone came down with a birthday cake with candles and fell down the stairs,” Labadie said, citing initial investigation findings.
Police said earlier the flames had ignited polystyrene on the ceiling of the basement room, releasing a toxic mix of gasses that poisoned the victims.