Tuesday, November 12

Paris arson suspect had just been released from psychiatric ward


File photo shows the entrance of the Police Prefecture Psychiatric Infirmary in Paris. — AFP photo

PARIS: The woman suspected of setting fire to a Paris apartment building in which 10 people died had only just been released from a psychiatric ward, the Paris prosecutor said.

The woman in her 40s, who lived in the building, had been treated a dozen times in psychiatric facilities in Paris over the past decade.

On Jan 30, six days before the deadly blaze, she was allowed out of a psychiatric hospital after a doctor declared her fit to leave, prosecutor Remy Heitz told a press conference.

Sources said she had been let out of the Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital in Paris after 12 days inside.

The fire on the upper floors of the building on Rue Erlanger in the upscale 16th Paris district, was the most deadly in the capital since 2005.

Thirty people were also hurt in the blaze which ravaged much of the back of the building in the early hours of Tuesday.

Some 20 firemen continued to search through the building’s blackened remains, part of which has been declared unsafe to live in.

Dramatic footage of the fire, filmed by firemen and neighbours, showed flames shooting out of windows and firemen climbing narrow ladders to rescue terrified residents, some dressed only in pyjamas, from the top of the eight-storey block.

The suspected arsonist, who was immediately detained, is currently being held in a police psychiatric facility.

She was “intoxicated when detained and attempting to set fire to a car,” police said.

The woman had already been in trouble with police, including once for causing damage by fire, but she was never convicted.

She had repeated run-ins with a neighbour, who is a fireman, and was again involved in a dispute with him just before the fire broke out, police said. — AFP