Three dead in central Paris fire

Three people died and another was seriously injured in a fire that broke out in a building in central Paris in the early hours of Saturday, fire services said.

One of the victims died after falling from the six-storey block of flats situated in the 11th district, which also housed a restaurant and a hammam, a spokesman for the fire services said.

The building was being renovated and was encased in scaffolding.

It was not immediately clear the dead woman had jumped out or slipped from a scaffolding while trying to escape the flames.

The two other fatalities included a "young man who was trying to get out of his house and was suffocated by the smoke and another person who faced a similar situation," Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told a news conference.

Hidalgo said the building was in a "crowded arrondissement", or district, and that its position and layout made "intervention much more difficult."

The blaze was reported at around 05:00 and it took nearly four hours for 200 firefighters to bring it under control, according to fire captain Florian Lointier.

About 50 fire trucks were deployed and some 15 people were rescued, Lointier said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. Prosecutors have opened an investigation.

The heat from the blaze was very intense, Lointier said. Twenty-seven people were treated for smoke inhalation, the rescue services said.

"We were asleep and at around 5:00 am, I smelt smoke. I opened the window and a fire truck was already there," said one witness, Jerome Cariati, who lives in an adjacent street.

"There was thick, black smoke and a nasty smell. There was shouting and a lot of noise. The people were standing in the street with nothing on their feet. They seemed in a state of shock."

In February, a woman suffering from psychiatric problems started a fire in Paris's wealthy 16th district. Ten people died and 96 suffered injuries in the deadliest blaze to hit the French capital in 14 years.

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