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Fire at German facility for disabled kills 14

Patrick Seeger / EPA

Firemen extinguish a fire at a workshop that employs disabled people in Titisee-Neustadt, Germany on Monday.

A fire that broke out in a workshop for disabled people in Germany killed 14 and injured eight others on Monday, authorities said. Scores more had to be rescued from the three-story center, according to wire reports citing German officials.

"The biggest problem this afternoon was the smoke situation," Alfred Oschwald, a Freiburg police spokesman told German broadcaster N-tv., adding that this was likely what caused the fatalities.


The blaze in the small town of Titisee-Neustadt in the country’s southwest triggered an alarm which alerted the fire department. More than 100 firefighters were deployed to the scene, Markus Straub, a spokesman for local firefighters told The Associated Press. Dozens of ambulance workers were at the scene.

The center, run by the Catholic Church's Caritas organization, employs people who are mentally or physically disabled to do jobs such as metalwork, woodwork and electrical installation.

The workshop is believed to have employed around 120 people, the BBC reported.

There was no immediate information on how the fire started. The buildings at the center were quite new, according to Armin Hinterseh, the mayor of Titisee-Neustadt, a popular lakeside tourist destination in Germany’s Black Forest region.

"It is devastating. We now have to find out how it happened," Hinterseh told the local daily Badische Zeitung.
 
"It will take days to investigate what caused the fire," police spokesman Karl-Heinz Schmid said, according to the AP.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is "shocked" about the loss of so many lives, her spokesman said on Twitter.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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