Paris Apartment Fire Leaves Eight Dead, Criminal Investigation Begins

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Cassandra Vinograd

Eight people, including two children, were killed in an early-morning apartment fire in Paris Wednesday, according to officials who said police were investigating if the blaze was set deliberately.

The Paris Fire Brigade said that five other people were lightly wounded in the "violent" blaze, which ripped through the 18th arrondissement apartment building before dawn.

Eric Lejoindre, mayor of the 18th, told NBC News that two of the dead were children — a boy and a girl — and that the victims appear to have been related.

"At least two people jumped from their windows and were found dead in the street,” he added.

Lejoindre noted the close-knit nature of his community, saying that the early morning phone call about the fire was one of the "worst" he's received as mayor.

“There's really a sense of shock, disbelief," he said. "It’s a great tragedy."

He said had firefighters responded to two separate calls to the same address on Rue Myrha: the first at around 2 a.m. and then to a "real fire" at around 4:30 a.m.

"We don’t know at this point if those two different fires are linked but one can just guess,” he added, saying it was "very probable" the blaze was set deliberately.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet echoed those sentiments, telling BFM TV that "it's clear that when there are two calls on the same night, we can't ignore that this could be a malicious act."

French President Francois Hollande offered "solidarity" to those affected and said all actions were being taken to shed light on the tragedy. Prime Minister Manual Valls also expressed his support to families of the victims.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said criminal investigators were leading the inquiry and offered condolences to those affected.

Rescue workers ladders are seen at the damaged building after a fire broke out Wednesday, Sept.2, in Paris, France.Francois Mori / AP