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Six die in Stockholm apartment fire

TT/AFP/The Local · 26 Jul 2009, 10:00

Published: 26 Jul 2009 10:00 GMT+02:00

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A sixth daughter was taken to hospital in a serious condition and an eighth victim was also taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The tragedy is the deadliest in the Scandinavian country since 1998, when a fire in the city of Gothenburg killed 63 people.

The fire broke out around 10.00pm on the ground floor of a block of flats on Kuddbygränd in the district of Rinkeby, about 15 kilometres west of the Swedish capital, and all the victims died of smoke inhalation.

"The fire started in a ground-floor flat and spread through the building, which caused the deaths," Stockholm police spokesman Jens Wismar told AFP.

Police dismissed reports in Swedish media, which cited witnesses saying the victims died trapped in the building's lift.

During a press conference on Sunday, emergency services added the bodies were found in the block's staircases.

The apartment was described by the emergency services as a loft apartment and it is not known how many people were inside when the fire broke out. By the time emergency services arrived on the scene the apartment was ablaze.

Twelve apartments in the building were evacuated and residents were unable to return to their homes later on Saturday night. Temporary accommodation was arranged for those affected.

Many of those interviewed by TT at the scene commented on what they felt was an inordinate delay in the arrival of the emergency services.

"We have called in technicians to examine what has happened," said Lars Byström of Stockholm police at a press conference in Rinkeby.

TT's reporter described chaotic scenes in the vicinity of the burning building and on Sunday morning many local residents remained in the dark over the safety of their friends, family and neighbours.

"I was woken up by the sirens during the night, I have friends that live in the building and I am trying to get hold of them now," a neighbour told TT's reporter at the scene.

The cause of the fire, which led to the evacuation of around 20 people in the area, was still being investigated but police do not believe it was started intentionally.

Story continues below…

Current evidence pointed more towards "dangerous negligence," police spokeswoman Karin Solberg told Swedish news agency TT.

Built mostly in the 1960s, Rinkeby is a modest district with a large immigrant community.

More than 60 percent of its inhabitants were born outside Sweden, according to figures from local authorities.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:07 July 26, 2009 by ameribrit
2 points.

1) Was there a legitimate reason for the story to include "in the predominantly immigrant district " ?

2) The description of people waiting for emergency services is almost always described as taking too long, or similar descriptions. Having a long history in this type of work I would like to point out hat this is not always the case. It is often merely the perception of someone that is helpless to do anything in an emergency situation except wait. Until the times are checked from the SOS logs, publishing unsubstantiated statements like this are only likely to create a problem, especially when coupled with "in the predominantly immigrant district".

It is always hard when people, especially children die in a fire. Just spare a thought for the guys that have to deal with charred remains of the victims before you start to knock them.
11:38 July 26, 2009 by byke
@ ameribrit

Well said.
12:11 July 26, 2009 by Omaro
@ ameribrit

I agree with you, it seems that even the Local can`t fight the charm of combining sensitive descriptions like "in the predominantly immigrant district" when telling an event can happen anywhere in Sweden, I think it is the European style when dealing with the inside events "in the predominantly immigrant district".
13:05 July 26, 2009 by here for the summer
While i agree with the broader point of the 1st poster about the need to appreciate and protect the public servants who respond to these emergencies I wonder if keeping the secrets about the ethnicity of the offenders and areas secret does any good. Many readers don't know the Stockholm areas. You see speculation about who did what where and the speculation certainly wrong in some instances. Why not report the facts?
13:09 July 26, 2009 by double concerto
Emergency vehicles are loathe to enter immigrant areas because of the stone throwers and arsonists. Perhaps the fire crews were awaiting a police escort before arriving on the scene. There are always stories within stories the art is to read the text and the more information given the better. Well done the Local FOR GIVING THE FACTS.
13:18 July 26, 2009 by Eye_Witness
@ameribrit... I think the word 'immigrants' that you mentioned has been re-edited now... as I can see it any more.
13:21 July 26, 2009 by mobings
Yes I agree as the words ' predominently Immigrants' was there in morning but now I can not see these.
14:18 July 26, 2009 by Eye_Witness
A dangerous beast was killed in Sweden by a farmer in order to save his cattle. The news received more than 50 comments condemning the brutality. Circumcission topic has more than 150 comments labelling the practice as cult , and now 4 KIDS HAVE BEEN BURNT.... but I am sure the topic wont get more than 30 comments, as topic does not contain any thing INTERESTING to talk against immigrants or some religious faiths... my eyes are witnessed to this, so that later my words can describe the real face of WEST........
14:21 July 26, 2009 by John Doe
) of course...

See what happened just nearby:


Tensta, Husby, Rinkeby... really nice neighbourhoods... the "Rosengårds" of Stockholm...

Just look'em up in Wikipedia... scary I would say... nothing left but to congratulate the politicians.
14:33 July 26, 2009 by Streja
I feel for the families. Five children were killed! They were in a lift. I have always been told not to go into lifts in case of fire as they can become deathtraps. I'm sure this family did not know. It's so sad!
15:24 July 26, 2009 by conboy
Swedish appartment buildings are death traps generally anyway has anyone reflected over the fact that workplaces have stipulated alternative exit stairwells but appartment buildings are not governed by the requirement????

John Doe you are a toe rag one day after a family is almost wiped out you have to trown in your rednecked tuppence why don't you just get lost!
15:42 July 26, 2009 by Keewee
John Doe you are a disgrace to the expat community. You make me sick.
17:49 July 26, 2009 by Playmaker
oh John Doe you are so right. i can not wait to see the final explantion for the fire. were there to many people in the apt.? were they all legal? if it was on the bottom floor why did so many die? and yes they do throw rocks there also. i had to work there for a week and i could not tell that i was i sweden. and i personaly saw a rock thrown at the fire dept. truck. unreal.
17:49 July 26, 2009 by I Love Lamp
Not really sure which story is correct. CNN is stating they were found in the stairwell...

18:04 July 26, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
Workplaces do not have isolated "fire units" and thus the speed of evacuation must be higher. In appartment buildings each appartment is built to withstand fire and since the need for swift evacuation is thus not as high the windows act as a second emergency exit (if the building is less than 5 floors so that the fire ladder can reach).
18:39 July 26, 2009 by John Doe
It's tragic when people die, it's very tragic when innocent children die and it was not like I was happy or making fun about this event. It's just exasperating to see this "sticking the head in the sand" attitude regarding such areas and how even mentioning expressions like "immigrant dense neighborhood" (the article has been re-edited as a few others pointed out) became an offence and a "racist" gesture. It's paranoia.
18:40 July 26, 2009 by conboy
Sure thats fine and dandy when it comes to work places but a heavy smoke build up in a high rise with only a single stairwell has got to be asking for trouble. What happens with handicapped people and young children as well as older people? As the Fire Brigade bloke rightly pointed out lifts are an absolute no-no in emergencies. As for the racist scumbags posting on here why don't you get help? cowards all of you!
19:21 July 26, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
The rule of thumb is to stay in your flat in cases like this; it is designed to withstand fires in neighbouring flats for a prolonged time. You should under no circumstances enter a smoke filled stairwell or use the lift. The fire brigade's no 1 prioritiy when arriving is to clear the stairwell by using a "smoke shaft" and to evacuate people by the stairwell or/and windows.

The sad thing is that these people would likely have survived if they stayed in their flat.
19:53 July 26, 2009 by conboy
Hold on a minute now it is not unusual for walls between adjoining appartments to be composed of gips and NOT hard stone. My point is a fire raging in an adjoining appartment may dictate that remaining in your own appartment is not ALWAYS the best policy. Indeed I have never heard any authority offering such advice. On what basis do you offer this advice? By the way the indication is that these unfortunate people may have perished in the lift. I find it curious that in fact signs are not displayed in buildings stating specifically that lifts should not be used in emergencies. I am afraid I am not convinced by your argument.
20:26 July 26, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
No, walls between flats are always hard stone/brick or equivalent fire measures; it is only the inside walls that are gips. Regulations for buildings higher than three floors require that flats have to be separated by a fire barrier that would hold at least 60 min in case of a full blown fire.

Read more on www.msbmyndigheten.se regarding regulations and advice.

Here you hare the full regulations:

21:13 July 26, 2009 by conboy
Fair play to you thanks for the heads up!
23:25 July 26, 2009 by Eurostan
how many children she totally have???????????.

generally in case fire just go out of house. but many people start searching for things to take with them, that is catastrof.
23:46 July 26, 2009 by Kind Man
one of my friend was calling the ambulance in Stockholm to take the pregnant lady into hospital but emergency staff did not come and pay attention. she had to take taxi.and she said to me, this happen to us when they hear we do not sound Swedish they do not take matter serious.

This could be also the case that people die from fire where we have a fire department it is is such a shame and should be investigated. If they responded in time manner or not.
23:47 July 26, 2009 by 7
where are we? OK-corral?

there's nothing that musters credibility, strength of character and intelligence better than informing the world that you love to fight and calling someone out. i'm in awe of the intellectual prowess we have in our midst.

*pines for a day-gone-by when people used their brains, rhetoric and humor to discuss a topic.
00:17 July 27, 2009 by Eurostan
may be fire department is waiting for police to secure them from stone throwing because it is a predominantly muslim immigrants area.

@kind man

you are a funny guy. no body is forcing someone to stay in sweden. if you think swedish people are racist just go to arland airport and go home.
02:11 July 27, 2009 by rami.se
Not strange for the swedish emergency services since the general policy backs them up, a similar evidence already occured with me peronaly when I let a kid of friend's sons to call the ambulance for me. I had contraction in a muscle caused by HERNIA had to be operated. After serious negotiation with the call ansering lady, I got the proper transport.

I was surprised when the SWEDISH BLOND DOCTOR in Huddinge skjukhus who is paid to help the public that he cant help me because I did not hold the swedish ID!

A canadian doctor ffrom a Non Government Organization helped me later since both of us were immigrants!
05:10 July 27, 2009 by Weekend_warrior
It is indeed a tragic story. Perhaps, just perhaps, the purpose of pointing out that it was a largely immigrant town, or building, was to point out that (same for USA with immigrants from the south) most immigrants are not educated enough in matters of fire.

They are not aware that they should feel the door to see if it is hot before opening it. To cover themselves in wet blankets. Staying out of the elevator, although it appears they did take the stairs. They could have covered their mouths with an article of clothing and made a go of it. Provided it was smoke and not fire, in the stairwell. Maybe staying in the apartment would have been best.

Emergency education? Does Sweden have local and free CPR classes etc...my home town in California did. I think it would be a good thing to make available to people...School assembly anyone? I loves me a good assembly.
07:23 July 27, 2009 by Ex_New_Yorker

A mother and 5 of her children heart breaking.

@As for the comments on the page I suspect many are from bitter "mutant inbred albinos".

"Most white people hate Black people the reason that most white people hate Black people is becuase white people are not black people. If you know this about white people you need know nothing else, if you do not know this about white people everything they do will only confuse you"

Muslim - immigrant code words for non-white.

Racist are not clever just jealous.

We have more "money" comment's from racist in 1..2..3..Go
07:29 July 27, 2009 by ameribrit
@Weekend_warrior, All those ideas about covering your mouth etc are good in theory but the reality of the conditions inside a burning structure negate just about all of the advice given. The conditions inside a burning structure are not compatible with life no matter how many blankets you put over your head. With out proper gear including SCBA your best bet is a pre planned escape route involving a widow and a rope ladder or something along those lines.

Incidents like this are the main reason that I refuse to live in an apartment type building. Your life is in the hands of the idiot downstairs having a last cigarette while in bed.

07:36 July 27, 2009 by To The Point
@ Eurostan

Your country and other westren "peacekeepers" bombarded their homes in iraq and afghanistan and forced them to seek ayslum here in west! Well no one told them that instead they will be greeted by f**king racists like you!

Stop making fun and just think of the tragic loss of lives of innocent children.
07:42 July 27, 2009 by I Love it when ...

how sad
08:07 July 27, 2009 by Edna Harris

How very very sad.

Please put your bickering somewhere else and just allow poeple to mourn in peace.
09:03 July 27, 2009 by Weekend_warrior
@ ameribrit - I would agree with you. However most people in the United States, and I can only assume in Europe are given some kind of education in fire safety (ex. stated in previous post) and basic medical treatment (don't move a person's head in an accident, make a splint for broken arm, cpr, etc...).

Having a pre-planned escape plan is an excellent idea, but how do we get that idea to the people? Does Sweden not have fire-escapes in their buildings? First-world-developed Sweden? In the U.S. it's like law...I mean Americans would have a sh*t-fit.

@To the Point - You should change your name to "I read all points" because the article stated the family was Somalian. This has nothing to do with Muslims, Iraq, or Afghanistan and the thousands that got displaced around Europe (most went to countries like Jordan) because they are not fighters. They are women and children and are being killed by their own.
12:26 July 27, 2009 by Plowbridge H. Broad

Despite your very limited and possibly missing intelligence you persist in commenting beyond your abilities. You seem happy enough to divulge your ignorant opinions of Islam but perhaps we should be discussing what to do with damaged losers like you? Presumably you were driven to the Army recruitment office as you messed up your other career at the flea farm. Now fjuk off back to Ma and Pa in the hick state you came from. When you get there try some Russian roulette and even if you hit your head give it another go until a bullet finds your brain.
16:59 July 27, 2009 by ameribrit

I fully understand. I was a Paramedic in a Mid West US Fire Dep't until moving to Sweden last November. As far as fire escapes in Sweden go, I have not seen the same setup as in the US but I haven't looked into it in detail yet. Like I said, I won't live in an apartment complex so I haven't noticed. But it does give me something to look into.

Take care.
17:23 July 27, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
All buildings need at least one fire escape. Residential buildings also need stairwells and flats built so that they prevent spread of fire/smoke. Commercial buildings do not in general have separated units that can contain fire/smoke and therefore need multiple fire escapes. Pretty much standardized EU-rules.
23:20 July 27, 2009 by Kaethar
This topic contains nothing to discuss, which is what discussion boards are for.

RIP to the dead family members though. I hope the man and his two children will be alright.
21:40 July 28, 2009 by DidiE
According to Aftonbladet, using Didi E's less than literal translation They died from toxic smoke- Aftonbladet

Om de stannat i lägenheten kunde de ha klarat sig

Hade mamman och de fem barnen stannat i lägenheten hade de troligtvis klarat sig.

If the mother and five children had stayed in their apartment, they probably would have survived.

Röken i trapphuset gjorde att de blev medvetslösa direkt och inte hade en chans.

Smoke in the stairwell caused them to become unconscious, and they never had a chance.

– Troligtvis är det så, säger vice brandchef Christer Ängehov.

That is likely the case, says assistant fire chief Christer Ängehov.

Dörren till den branddrabbade lägenheten stod öppen. Rök från brinnande textilier, möbler och plaster fyllde trapphuset när mamman och barnen försökte ta sig ut.

The door to the burning apartment (sic, the one on the first floor where the fire started) stood open. Smoke from burning textiles, furniture and plaster filled the stairwell when the mother and children tried to evacuate.

– Sådan rök är så giftig att man efter ett eller två andetag blir medvetslös, säger stabsbefälet på Storstockholms brandförsvar, Denny Wincent.

Such smoke is so poisonous that after only one or two breathers, people become unconscious, says commanding officer Denny Wincent of Greater Stockholm's Fire Department.

I certainly never knew that one should stay in an apartment- that it is safer to stay than try to evacuate, according to Aftonbladet. They state that people have up to an hour before toxic smoke can reach the apartments farthest from the fires. The paper also conducted their own investigation as to how long it would take for the nearest fire department to respond, and found that it was over nine minutes- the fire department in question was there within ten. This is such a tragedy. As I said, I had no idea it was better to stay put, and I am sure that I would have also responded as this mom, trying to get my kids out as soon as possible. I am really grateful that people are discussing this issue, so that we can all be a bit better informed about how to respond to this type of event.
22:01 July 28, 2009 by BillyB
On this subject, ive no idea if it had any involvement in this tragedy, but it reminded me of something i was thinking about recently...

in general what are the laws on smoke detectors here?

Ive lived in 4 different apartments in my time here and none had smoke detectors in either the apartments, stairwells, basements etc..

When i was still renting i had to leave one on top of my wardrobe as the owner didnt want me to permanently fix one to the roof.

Is there any laws, rules etc on smoke detectors here?
23:36 July 28, 2009 by RichardG
Ive been reading through several threads now for the past couple of weeks since Ive joined this forum. Ive been a very heavy internet user for years and have joined many many forums in lots of areas that Im personally interested in.

The kind of comments and opinions that are being thrown around in here are exactly the same as the garbage that made me ashamed to be a Glasgow Rangers football fan. I deleted my profile from those forums because it was full of racist and bigotted drivel that detracted from what could have been an interesting forum. Almost every topic, regardless of how it started, always ended up going down the same path.

Of course its nowhere near as bad as that in here, not even close, but I think we should try and show a little restraint, especially in a thread which is of such a sad nature.

My thoughts go out to all of the people involved in this tragic accident.
09:16 June 9, 2010 by sendia
If you want to go out in smoke,,, cover your face with wet cloth and try to crawl as the smoke accumulates on top.

The local should get the facts regarding when the call was made and how long did it take for the fire service to reach instead of writing stuff like people felt blah blah coupled with words like predominantly immigrant areas.
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