Ten dead, dozens injured in Paris apartment fire

About 200 firefighters battled the blaze and one woman was arrested as police investigate possible arson.

    An investigation has been opened into the criminal charge of causing death by arson [Christophe Ena/AP]
    An investigation has been opened into the criminal charge of causing death by arson [Christophe Ena/AP]

    A woman has been arrested after 10 people died in a fire which ripped through an apartment building in a wealthy Paris neighbourhood.

    The blaze in the French capital's high-end 16th arrondissement in the wee hours on Tuesday caused injuries to at least 31 people, including six firefighters.

    French President Emmanuel Macron took to Twitter to express that "France wakes up with emotion after the fire in rue Erlanger in Paris last night." 

    About 200 firefighters battled the blaze, which started at about 1am local time (midnight GMT), and was extinguished after several hours. Firefighters described the area as a "scene of incredible violence".

    "I heard a woman screaming in the street, crying for help," a witness Jacqueline Ravier, who lives across the street from the building, told the Associated Press news agency.

    She said shaken residents were evacuated and brought to her building and the one adjacent to it.

    Ravier described seeing "a young man in his underwear", blackened by smoke, and a woman motionless on the ground outside. 

    A fire rages through the top floors of an apartment building in Paris, France [Paris Fire Department via AP]

    "One person has been arrested. It's a woman. She's currently in custody," Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said from the scene on Tuesday morning.

    An investigation has been opened into the criminal charge of causing death by arson.

    The area in the capital's southwest is popular with tourists and overlooks landmarks, including the Trocadero, Eiffel Tower, Paris Saint-Germain's home stadium, the Parc des Princes, the picturesque Bois de Bologne and an array of upmarket shops and restaurants.

    "We had to carry out many rescues, including some people who had taken refuge on the roofs. Thirty people were evacuated on ladders," fire service spokesperson Captain Clement Cognon told AFP news agency at the scene.

    Several streets of the chic neighbourhood were cordoned off by police and fire crews.

    In late December, two women and two girls had died from asphyxiation in a fire that broke out in a public housing block in a suburb northeast of Paris.

    In January, a gas explosion, followed by a fire at a bakery killed four people in the 9th arrondissement.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies