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Building in danger of collapsing: Fire causes massive damage in Bad Neuenahr's spa

Building in danger of collapsing : Fire causes massive damage in Bad Neuenahr's spa

A fire broke out in the Bad Neuenahr spa district late Monday evening. The fire developed in an intermediate building of the thermal bath and the sanatorium.

Major operation in Bad Neuenahr late Monday evening: At 22.39 hrs the sirens howled in the spa town after a fire was reported in the thermal bath house located directly next to the Steigenberger Hotel. When the fire brigade arrived, the first thing they thought was a smaller fire, which quickly seemed to be under control. A few minutes later the situation changed dramatically: a currently empty crossbar facing Beethovenstraße suddenly caught fire, the fire eating its way through gaps in the ceiling closer and closer to the thermal bath house.

Due to numerous glowing nests in the false ceilings of the old building, the extinguishing work proved to be extremely complicated and difficult. A new alarm was sounded. 26 fire brigades from the entire region with more than 130 firemen were finally on duty until Tuesday evening. Around 100 hotel residents had to be evacuated as a precaution. Kat-Warn sounded the alarm: residents were asked to close their windows.

According to the current state of investigations, the fire started in an intermediate building of the thermal bath house, which was inaugurated in 1901, and the adjacent sanatorium. The cause is still unknown. Presumably the fire developed in an open construction site on the ground floor of the intermediate building and quickly spread to the entire building.

"Around 10 p.m., cleaning staff noticed an acrid smell and informed the hotel reception desk. A little later the first smoke was discovered," reported property manager Jürgen Ritter. Due to the heavy smoke development, parts of the adjacent sanatorium had to be cleared by the fire brigade. The firefighters worked mostly with heavy breathing protection. The neighbouring practice rooms of the building complex were partially damaged by the smoke. Property manager Ritter called a tenants' meeting for Tuesday evening to find solutions for the commercial enterprises located in the building.

In the rear part of the thermal bath house, fire water also caused considerable damage. Ritter: "Some ceilings have collapsed, the corridors are under water. The fitness centre there can no longer be used for the time being.

However, the rapid intervention of the fire brigade prevented it from spreading to adjacent buildings. According to experts, however, parts of the building are at high risk of collapsing. This was one of the reasons why the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief was on site. According to initial estimates by the police and fire brigade, the amount of damage to property is likely to be in the high six-figure range.

Four people were slightly injured during the operation, three were taken to hospital on suspicion of smoke inhalation and one soldier suffered a foot injury.

In addition to the Ahrweiler police, numerous members of the surrounding fire brigades, the rescue service and the technical relief organisation were deployed at the scene of the fire. The professional fire brigades from Bonn and Koblenz were also alerted, and a fire engine with special equipment arrived from Meckenheim. A drone flew over the area of operation.

The mayor of Bad Neuenahr, Guido Orthen, accompanied by First Alderman Peter Diewald, was at the scene of the fire from midnight until the morning to get an idea of the situation. As a precautionary measure, the Red Cross had deployed 21 rescue workers and several emergency doctors.

The owners of the building complex were also faced with the dense clouds of smoke visible from afar: Hans-Joachim Brogsitter and his wife had bought the entire building complex, which dates from the turn of the century, from the insolvency estate of the Bad Neuenahr public limited company in 2017.

The roads around the thermal spa were closed to traffic during the large-scale operation.

(Original text: Victor Francke, Translation: Mareike Graepel)