Bad Godesberg Firefighters and the police were called out to a fire on Deutschherrenstrasse in Bad Godesberg on Monday. A fire in a refugee shelter resulted in 150 people being evacuated. Investigators have not ruled out arson.
Lots of sirens on Monday midday caught the attention of Bad Godesberg residents. Many feared another terrible fire after the big blaze on Saturday in the carpenter's workshop near Kinopolis. Both the fire department and police were called to the scene of the fire at a refugee shelter on Deutschherrenstrasse in Muffendorf. The shelter is run by the state, and the district government of Cologne is responsible for it. A room there had caught fire at around 1:30 p.m..
According to police spokesman Robert Scholten, 251 people live there. Deutschherrenstrasse between Theodor-Heuss-Strasse and Röntgenstrasse was completely closed off. According to fire chief Albert Lehmann, the fire started on the second floor. "When the emergency forces arrived, the room was already in flames," said Lehmann. The residents as well as the employees of the accommodation had already evacuated parts of the building, the fire brigade then continued. A total of 150 people were affected by the evacuation.
According to police, seven people were slightly injured. A total of 45 firefighters were on the scene. The fire was quickly brought under control, and further extinguishing work was carried out. Those living in the shelter evacuated to a neighboring property. According to Scholten, investigations into the cause of the fire are underway. The officers are interested especially in two residents of the accommodation. "We cannot currently rule out arson, but negligence may also be possible," said Scholten on Monday afternoon. Both residents are being questioned by the police and the scene of the fire is being examined by investigators.
According to Dirk Schneemann from the press office of the district government, the capacity of the shelter is up to 480 people. The majority of the current 251 residents come from the Western Balkans, the Maghreb states, Russia and Iraq - including 51 families. "The occupancy figures are largely the same as at the same time last year," said Schneemann. Most of them had a “Duldung” status (“temporary suspension of deportation”), some individuals also had a residence permit allowing them to conduct an asylum proceeding.
Many refugees were probably well prepared for the situation on Monday. "Recently, a test alarm was practiced," the spokesman said. There were also fire protection concepts and evacuation plans in place. Fire protection exercises had been carried out and the designated assembly points had been identified. Smoking and cooking are prohibited in the rooms themselves. According to Schneemann, the rental contract for the property runs until the end of 2021.
(Orig. text: Silke Elbern, Sebastian Fink; Translation: ck)