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Wed Jan 2, 2013 7:10PM
Firefighters arrive at the scene of a fire that broke out early in the morning in the French suburb of Gennevilliers on January 2, 2013.

Firefighters arrive at the scene of a fire that broke out early in the morning in the French suburb of Gennevilliers on January 2, 2013.

Five people have died after a fire broke out in a six-storey apartment building in the poor northern Paris region of Gennevilliers. Eighteen other people were injured from the fire that occurred shortly before firefighters arrived on the scene at 4:15am local time, on Wednesday. According to officials, the fire started on the fourth-floor of the block of flats, which spread to the floor above through exterior windows. Firefighters are investigating what caused the outbreak. The fire "developed unbeknownst to the occupants, which is common with fires occurring in the middle of the night," Paris fireman’s brigade spokesman Frederic Grosjean said. A nearby resident could hear the fire raging, she said, "I woke up at 4 am and I heard a strange noise, like a blowtorch.” "I saw a huge flame and fire. It was horrible. The flames rose from the 4th floor, and there was black smoke,” she added. Around 100 firefighters used an extendable ladder to rescue people, including an infant trapped on the sixth-floor. They finished tackling the flames after nearly two hours. The injured include 15 people taken to hospital from smoke inhalation, one firefighter who suffered burns on his hand and another from heat exposure. Though officials have not confirmed the identities of the deceased, reports say four were from the same family, including two parents, a teenage daughter and a 12-year-old child. The other teenager was a friend staying overnight. GVN/SZH
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