The head of the fire services in Umeå, Lars Tapani, reported that the fire broke out in the attic of the building and spread to the apartments below. The building is described as three-story, with several stairwells and organised in a u-shape.
“It is also burning violently on the roof and you can smell the smoke over half of Umeå,” he said to news agency TT early on Christmas Day.
Tapani was speaking from a primary school in the vicinity that had been taken over to provide temporary accommodation to people evacuated from some 90 apartments in the student housing area of Ålidhem.
Many others that had been affected by the fire during the night had been able to sort out alternative accommodation, Tapani said.
The fire still raged at 8am on Christmas morning in the house which is made of concrete and has a brick facade. 20 firefighters from Umeå, Sävar and Holmsund were involved in fighting the fire.
Kenneth Jonsson of the fire services reasoned that the house would not be inhabitable for the foreseeable future.
Jonsson told TT that embers from a fire in one of the apartments, extinguished on Christmas Eve, could have spread via the ventilation system into the attic of the building.
No one is reported to have been physically injured in the fire.
“But many were at home and are suffering from shock,” Jonsson said.
Several fires broke out across Sweden on Christmas Eve and fire services had a busy night.
On Järntorget in Eskilstuna, west of Stockholm, a fire began in a video store at around 2am. Police suspect that the fire, which was quickly put out, was a case of arson.
At a school in Bandhagen in southern Stockholm a further fire broke out in a classroom in the early hours. A guard at the school was able to extinguish the fire before it caused any considerable damage.
Shortly before 5am a fire broke out in a restaurant in Helsingborg in southern Sweden. Police suspect that the fire was deliberate.
There are similar suspicions over a fire in a two-storey building in Alvesta in central Sweden which destroyed the building on Christmas morning. The building was empty at the time but has previously housed a pizzeria.