Flames tore through an apartment block in Paris, killing at least eight people in the early hours of Tuesday, after what prosecutors said looked like an arson attack.
Police said they had arrested a 40-year-old woman who lived in the building on suspicion of starting the blaze in the upscale 16th arrondissement.
Firefighters in breathing apparatus scaled ladders to rescue residents stranded on balconies on the eight-storey block on Rue Erlanger. Some were hoisted down on ropes and at least one person abseiled to safety.
Thirty-six people were injured, including firefighters, authorities said. “It was a particularly violent fire,” Captain Clement Cognon of the Paris fire service told BFM TV.
Rescue crews edged along outer ledges as colleagues sprayed water onto the upper levels of the building. Officers escorted residents down smoke-filled passageways and evacuated residents from neighbouring buildings, TV footage showed.
The fire started on the upper floors after midnight and was under control by 0800 GMT, officials said.
Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz said investigators believed the fire was started deliberately and a woman had been detained. He said the woman had mental health issues.
All eight people killed were residents, Emmanuel Gregoire, an official in Paris’s City Hall told reporters.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wrote on Twitter that the city was in mourning after the fire, which came less than a month after a gas blast in central Paris killed four people.
Rue Erlanger is near the Parc des Princes soccer stadium and Roland Garros, the French Open tennis venue.