Fire at French vacation home for disabled adults kills 9, with 2 more feared dead

French prime minister speaking to firefighters
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, second from right, speaks with firefighters after a blaze erupted at a holiday home for disabled people in Wintzenheim, France.
(Sebastien Bozon / Pool Photo)
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A fire ripped through a vacation home in eastern France for adults with disabilities, killing at least nine people Wednesday, the head of rescue operations said.

Authorities said 17 people were evacuated, including one who was sent to a hospital with serious injuries. Lt. Col. Philippe Hauwiller, who was leading the rescue work of firefighters, said two more people were believed to have died.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne arrived at the scene on Wednesday afternoon. Officials told her that rescuers think they located 11 victims with the help of search dogs but not all the bodies were recovered yet.


Hauwiller said that the fire likely started on the home’s upper floor and that an investigation would determine the cause. Only those who were staying on the ground floor of the private accommodation in the town of Wintzenheim managed to escape, he said.

The 11 remaining occupants were trapped on the upper floor and in a mezzanine area that collapsed, according to Hauwiller.

The ground floor was made of stone, and the upper part of the building was built entirely of wood in the traditional style of the region, which might partly explain why the fire spread so quickly.

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Aug. 10, 2023

The group staying in the house was on a vacation sponsored by two associations, and many of the visitors came from the city of Nancy in eastern France, a statement from the Haut-Rhin prefecture said.

The local administration of the Haut-Rhin region said the fire broke out at 6:30 a.m. Christophe Marot, the secretary general of the local administration, said on broadcaster France Info that the vacationers included adults with “slight intellectual disabilities.”

Ten people with disabilities and and a person accompanying the group were believed to be among the dead. No other information about the victims was provided.


The fire department deployed 76 firefighters, four fire engines and four ambulances to contain the blaze and treat the victims. Forty police officers were also mobilized.

The fire was brought under control, the statement said.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on X: “In the face of this tragedy, my thoughts are with the victims, the injured and their families. Thank you to our security forces and emergency services.”