French President Jacques Chirac ordered action on fire safety on Tuesday after seven immigrants, including four children, died in a blaze in a rundown building in central Paris only days after a similar tragedy.
Monday night's fire raised new questions about the conservative government's fire safety record and housing policies, coming just three days after 17 African immigrants died in a blaze in another district of the capital.
Chirac expressed his horror at the latest fire, offered his condolences to bereaved families and ordered a prompt investigation into what he called “another dreadful fire.”
“What seems to me to be vital today, after this second drama, is that we, together with all the relevant authorities ... take the measures needed to avoid dramas such as this,” he said during a visit to the city of Reims northeast of Paris, reports Reuters.
“We've never seen anything like this,” said Jean-Baptiste Eyraud, head of Droit au Logement, or DAL, a housing rights association, of the fires. “This problem needs to be looked at attentively and solved, before other human lives are wasted.”
About 10,000 people are homeless or in a “precarious” housing situation in Paris, Eyraud said. The figure for all of France is about 2 million, he said.
In the Aug. 26 fire on the Boulevard Auriol on Paris's Left Bank, officials said the causes of the accident were probably “external,” as a short circuit was immediately ruled out because there was no electricity in the building.
After an investigation, the Paris fire service identified “several” spots in that building where fires have started over the past 11 years, a spokesman, who declined to be named, said, informs Bloomberg.