- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

WARSAW, POLAND (AP) - A fast-moving fire tore through a three-story building housing homeless people in northwestern Poland early Monday, killing 18 people and injuring 20 more, including an infant, officials said.

The blaze broke out around 1 a.m. Monday in a shelter for poorer residents of Kamien Pomorski, some 370 miles (600 kilometers) from the Polish capital and near the Baltic Sea coast, said Pawel Fratczak, a spokesman for Poland’s national firefighters.

“Eighteen people have been confirmed dead, but is going to be hard to identify many of them quickly because they are so badly burned,” Fratczak said.

There were 77 people registered as residents in the building at the time of the blaze. Fratczak said not all were yet accounted for, and that the death toll could still rise.

The injured, many of whom suffered broken bones after jumping out of first and second-floor windows to escape the blaze, were taken to local hospitals. Two people were being treated for burns, including an 8-month old baby.

The injuries are not considered life-threatening, Fratczak said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze, but police and fire investigators were on the scene to launch an investigation.

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