The fire broke out on Sunday evening after starting in an apartment and then spreading to the roof of the building. Emergency services rushed to the scene and 157 people were asked to leave their homes and find alternative accommodation for the night, with some given shelter in a nearby school. More than 60 firefighters were involved in the mission to put the fire out.
As the flames and smoke continued to billow out of the building late into the night, witnesses spoke of being shocked by the drama. “We quickly realised that it was on fire and ran downstairs (…) I am frightened and scared. Everyone was stressed when we ran our and we did not take anything with us, all of our stuff is still inside,” resident Aevan Kwrkis Karaykous told regional newspaper GT.
The region's fire service said that the cause of the fire remained a mystery, but it has been classified as a potential arson attack while police carry out their investigation. Five people were taken to hospital for mild smoke inhalation and shock.
Around 10 firefighters were still at the scene at Monday lunchtime. Officials said that while the roof was severely damaged, no other apartments had been set on fire. However experts were set to spend the afternoon checking the building's safety, following concerns that it could collapse as a result of the damage.
Emergency services are expected to remain at the scene until 8am on Tuesday at the earliest, Håkan Grunditz, one of the lead fire officers told Sweden's Expressen newspaper. “We'll try to get people home as soon as possible,” he added.
All photos: Anna Hållams/TT