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Poland escape room blaze: Man charged after 5 girls die in fire

Police and firefighters stand in front of a place, where a fire that broke out in an escape room killed five teenage girls, in the northern Polish city of Koszalin on January 4, 2019. - Five teenage girls died and one man was seriously injured on January 4 when a fire broke out in a room where they were playing an escape game in the northern Polish city of Koszalin, officials said. Police and fire officials said they did not yet know what started the blaze in the escape room, which was reported in the early evening. (Photo by Radoslaw Kolesnik / REPORTER / AFP) / Poland OUT (Photo credit should read RADOSLAW KOLESNIK/AFP/Getty Images)

A 28-year-old man has been charged after five teenage girls died in a fire Friday afternoon while celebrating their friend’s birthday at an escape room in Poland, officials said.

The suspect, who has been identified only as Miolsz S., has been charged with “deliberately creating the danger of a fire in the escape room” and “unintentionally causing the death of people in a fire,” CNN Polish affiliate TVN24 reported Ryszard Gasiorowski, a spokesman for the Koszalin district prosecutor, as saying.

Police and fire officials are still trying to figure out how the room caught fire, killing the 15-year-old girls and causing one other person to be hospitalized with severe burns, according to TVN.

“We join the families of the victims in their grief. The fire broke out at 5 in the afternoon in one of the escape rooms in Koszalin. There have been five victims, five young victims. We have provided psychological, psychiatric care to the families,” Koszalin Mayor Piotr Jedlinksi told TVN.

An escape room is a venue where a group of people are locked inside and try to find a way out by searching for clues as part of a game.

“General Leszek Suski (Polish fire brigades chief commander) has issued a decision that from tomorrow all escape rooms, game centers and clubs will undergo fire safety inspections with special attention paid to evacuation plans, escape routes in these type of locations,” Tomasz Kubiak, a Koszalin fire brigade officer, told TVN. “There should be a moderator in each location able to unlock the rooms and let people out. We will check this and it will be strictly controlled.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda on Twitter lamented a “devastating tragedy in Koszalin. Five joyous, growing up girls have been torn out of their lives. God bless their their parents and relatives. RIP.”

Jedlinksi called for a day of mourning Sunday.

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