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Several students seriously hurt in residence fire in Rennes

Thomas Bregardis, AFP | A student accommodation building destroyed by a fire at the campus of the specialist higher education establishment of electricity (SUPELEC - Ecole superieure d'electricite) on the outskirts of Rennes, France, on May 23, 2017.

Twenty-seven students were injured -- three seriously -- in an overnight fire at a student dorm just outside the western French city of Rennes, according to police and fire authorities. One student is fighting for his life on Tuesday.

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Most of the injured students suffered from smoke inhalation in the blaze that mobilised as many as 107 firefighters. The cause of the fire, which began in one of the rooms, was still unknown on Tuesday morning.

The relatively new three-storey residence in the town of Cesson-Sévigné houses 53 young people, students at the SUPELEC school (Ecole Supérieur d’Electricité).

The 26 students not hospitalized after the blaze were taken into the care of a psychological support unit in a building nearby, according to authorities.

“The building caught fire on the first floor and it spread quickly. First- and second-year students” live there, a 20-year-old student who lives in a neighbouring building told AFP. “I was woken up by the screams. There was a lot of smoke and people had trouble getting out by the window,” he added.

“People jumped from the first, second or third floors. We had put mattresses down. The firefighters arrived maybe 15 minutes later,” he said.

“We had had a barbeque not far away since it was nice out, but it finished at 12:30am and when it happened everyone was sleeping,” said Jason, 21, a second-year student who suffered from slight smoke inhalation.

“I jumped from the first-floor window. I was in the room just next door. Once on the ground, I went around the building yelling to wake everyone up. Some had trouble waking up. A lot hadn’t realized they had to evacuate right away. It was a big scramble. We separated into little groups to jump. For some people it went well, for others less so. Two students tried to put out the fire with extinguishers.”

Ghislain, 21, was “woken up by screams and fire alarms”. He jumped “from the second floor with my roommate who broke his kneecap… Impossible to get out by the stairwell. People invited me to jump; they had put mattresses down. We all reacted well,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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