Three dead in a fire in a care facility in Reutlingen
NAfter the fire in a social-psychiatric nursing home in Reutlingen, in which three people died on Tuesday, the Tübingen public prosecutor’s office is investigating on suspicion of murder. According to the police on Wednesday, the focus is on a 57-year-old resident who was seriously injured in the fire. Nothing was initially known about the possible course of events.
The emergency call reached the fire department in the evening at 7:43 p.m., six minutes later, the first fire engines were at the scene of the fire, said operations manager Martin Reicherter. A person with a soot-blackened face was already sitting in front of the building’s front door when the fire department arrived.
The fire had previously broken out in one of the four residential groups in the home, but by the time the fire brigade arrived it had largely gone out and was limited to one room. “The condition of the premises suggested a high level of intensity,” said Reicherter. After a first look, he thought it possible that the fire could have broken out “in the area of the patient’s bed”.
According to the chief emergency doctor, a 53-year-old woman and two men, aged 73 and 88, inhaled smoke and died. According to information from the night, a 57-year-old woman was seriously injured, eleven people suffered minor injuries. According to initial estimates, the amount of damage should be in the six-digit range.
“Shock Written on Your Face”
“It was an enormous psychological burden for the squads that were in there,” said operations manager Reicherter. “We have alerted our psychological aftercare.” The total of 61 firefighters and around 40 other helpers had “shock written all over their faces”, said Reutlingen’s Mayor Thomas Keck. The SPD politician was also shocked after the fire: “It’s a black evening for Reutlingen,” he said on Tuesday evening at the crime scene. Gerhard Längle, head of the facility, spoke of “a catastrophic situation for our residents and our employees.”
Seven to eight mentally ill people each have their own rooms in the residential groups of the social-psychiatric care facility. According to the medical director of the home, it is an integration aid facility for people who are at least 50 years old. They live there for a longer period of time, but according to the city they are comparatively independent.
After the fire, the exact situation in the residential group at the time of the fire is still unclear. The fire brigade and the city state that in addition to the room in which the fire broke out, “20 other doors were opened” and other rooms had to be searched. Since the people lived in their own apartments, they could also lock them, said the Mayor of Reutlingen. It has not yet been clarified whether individual rooms were locked.
Master key required for emergencies
The Patient Protection Foundation requires master keys in these facilities, which are deposited in a key safe. This must open automatically when a connected fire alarm system is triggered.
According to the police, there were 37 residents and five nurses in the building at the time the fire broke out. The part of the building affected by the fire is no longer habitable. After examination and treatment, the eleven slightly injured were taken to a psychiatric clinic and cared for there.