Fire breaks out in container housing complex in Amsterdam

Residents, many in pajamas, watch the fire. Photo: Michel van Bergen ANP
Residents, many in pajamas, watch the fire. Photo: Michel van Bergen ANP

A major fire has broken out in a housing complex in the west of Amsterdam where young refugees who have just been given residency permits live alongside Dutch students.

The fire began on the second floor in the early morning and spread quickly, leaving residents rushing to evacuate the premises in their pajamas. Part of the complex, made up of hundreds of single housing units in converted shipping containers, has since collapsed.

One person has been questioned by the police about the blaze and the fire brigade are considering arson as a possible cause, the Parool reported.

One resident told the Parool she lived opposite to the unit where the fire started and that the occupant had ‘psychiatric problems’.

And a 32-year-old Syrian refugee told the paper the man had recently ‘wrecked all his possessions’. ‘He was taken away by the police but then he came back. No-one helped him,’ the resident said.

The complex, known as Startcomplex Riekerhaven, is run by the Key housing association and residents took part in a rent strike earlier this year because of the lack of maintenance, the Parool reported.

So far there are no confirmed reports of any injuries but six people were checked by ambulance staff after they inhaled smoke.

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