A woman has been detained by French investigators as part of an inquiry into the apartment building fire that killed eight people and injured at least 31 others.
The blaze broke out early Tuesday in an eight-story residential complex on Rue Erlanger in the 16th arrondissement in Paris’s west.
Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters that a woman is in custody and authorities suspect the fire was a criminal act.
He said “the investigation has just begun” and it’s too early to determine the cause of the fire but that arson is the favored hypothesis. The woman, who lives in the building, was detained nearby.
The fire service said eight people were killed, one is in life-threatening condition, and 31 others were injured.
Fire service spokesman Clement Cognon said it took several hours for crews to bring the fire under control and that six firefighters were injured.
He said about 50 people were safely rescued from the building.
Firefighters are continuing to search apartments to see if there are any other victims and ensure that no residual fires break out.
Emergency workers are also working to ensure the building doesn’t collapse from the fire damage.
A witness said she saw flames shooting out from the top of the building and smoke-covered victims fleeing.
Jacqueline Ravier, who lives across the street from the building, said: “I heard a woman screaming in the street, crying and screaming for help.”
She said shaken, evacuated residents were brought to her building and the one next door while firefighters continued to fight the flames.
She described seeing “a young man in his underwear,” blackened by smoke, and a woman motionless on the ground outside.
“We feel the smoke,” she said. “What’s surprising is how long it lasted.”