Bonn The youth centre "Quasi" in the Rheinaue in Bonn is completely burnt out overnight on Tuesday. The city council of Bonn suspects arson and has had to cancel the autumn holiday program in the Rheinaue completely.
In the Rheinaue in Bonn, the "Quasi" youth centre went up in flames on Tuesday morning and was completely destroyed. According to the fire brigade, several emergency calls were received at 2:35 am from callers who reported a bright glow of fire from the direction of the wooden building.
After the police had also confirmed that the leisure area of about 20 by 20 meters in size, one and a half storeys above the large flower meadow adjacent to the park restaurant, was in full fire in the park, the fire brigade raised the alarm level and had 70 personnel on site at the peak. "We were able to see the flames as soon as we entered the Rheinaue. By the time we arrived on site, the youth centre was already ablaze in full," said Jörg Schneider, press spokesman for the Bonn fire brigade.
The fire brigade used five fire hoses to fight the fire from the outside and was thus able to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjacent park restaurant. "We had an immense flight of sparks, which we were able to keep away from other buildings with a water mist“, Schneider said.
Around 4 am the task forces had the fire under control. The post-fire-fighting and clean-up work lasted until about 1.30 pm. What was inside the building is still unknown. According to Schneider, the city uses the building mainly for children's and youth work.
The cause of the fire is still unclear, as is the damage to property. "We have started the investigation," said police spokesman Robert Scholten on Tuesday morning. According to GA information, the city of Bonn is assuming arson.
Dirk Dötsch, landlord of the adjoining park restaurant since 2000, said that vandalism was always an issue, especially during the summer months, but that the situation had improved significantly recently with the Rheinauenstreifen patrol.
As the city announced in the afternoon, the autumn holiday programme for children and young people has had to be cancelled completely due to the complete destruction of the leisure centre. "There is no alternative accommodation for the burnt-out building. It is not yet clear how things will continue at the site," the city said in its announcement.
Police are looking for witnesses
In the morning, the fire brigade used thermal imaging cameras to check the fire for possible nests of embers. Employees of the city's youth welfare department were also on site and were deeply affected. "This is a catastrophe," one of them told the GA, "the recreation center is an institution here.“
Dötsch could not believe what had happened during the night. The neighbourhood with the youth institution had always been very harmonious. Just recently, after the playground in the Rheinaue had been renovated, there had always been a nice sense of companionship - which also benefited his business. Dötsch had heard the devastating fire around 6 am from his secretary, who had been informed by the fire brigade.
"The leisure meeting place ‚Quasi‘ always had a special position among the child and youth leisure centers, because it did not lie in the midst of a residential quarter. There were always people who came from the whole city area and the Rhein-Sieg-area, explained youth welfare office leader Udo Stein.
The police ask witnesses, who made observations during the night with a possible connection to the fire, to call 0228/150.
(Original text: Laszlo Scheuch and Axel Vogel; Translation: Mareike Graepel)