Ethnic Turks escape suspected arson in Germany

Türkiye Materials 15 February 2008 14:40 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Fourteen residents, mostly ethnic Turks, fled an apartment building overnight in Germany as it was gutted by a fire that appeared to be arson, police said Friday.

Sources said police were interviewing one of the residents on strong evidence that he had lit the fire deliberately. He had a history of setting off such fires.

The blaze in the small town of Aldingen, 35 kilometres north of the Swiss border, brought comparisons with a mysterious blaze that killed 9 Turkish members of the Alawite faith on February 3 in the city of Ludwigshafen.

An inquiry in that factory city has yet to establish if the tenement-building blaze was an accident or a racially motivated arson attack on the families living there.

The suspicions of arson have been widely discussed in Germany's ethnic Turkish community and Turkey itself, prompting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to appeal for calm while the inquiry continues.

Nobody was injured in the Aldingen blaze. A motorist driving by saw flames leaping from wooden shingles on the outside of the building and rang all the doorbells to alert the nine sleeping adults and five children inside.

Police said the fire began at three places, almost sure proof that it was not an accident.

Both the Aldingen and Ludwigshafen fires involved old apartment buildings containing large quantities of very dry structural timbers.

In the Aldingen blaze, the external wooden shingles helped the fire to spread upwards. The building was gutted.