LIMA – A fire that erupted Saturday at a center for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts in the Peruvian capital killed at least 26 people, volunteer firefighters said.
Twenty-two people died of smoke inhalation at the rehabilitation center and four others perished later at area hospitals, firefighters’ chief Antonio Zavala said.
Ten other people were injured in the blaze, three of whom were hospitalized, while several firefighters and a police officer suffered varying degrees of bumps and bruises while responding to the emergency, he said.
“No one suffered burn injuries. Most died of asphyxiation. We fulfilled our duty as firefighters to rescue the victims, but the doors were completely locked,” Zavala said.
One survivor of the blaze, identified as Gianfranco Huertas, told RPP radio that some of the residents on the first floor set some rags on fire to demand they be allowed to leave the facility.
“They wanted to escape and they began hurling burning rags because the door was locked,” Huertas, who escaped unharmed along with another group of people who leaped from the second floor, said.
Local residents in the densely populated San Juan de Lurigancho district of eastern Lima said the facility, which reportedly lacked the required permits, housed roughly 60 people.