Fire at Austrian hospital kills 3 patients, cigarette suspected as cause

BERLIN (AP) — Three patients died in a fire that broke out overnight at a hospital in a town just outside Vienna, Austrian authorities said Tuesday. Police said they suspect a cigarette set off the blaze.

The fire broke out in a fourth-floor room at the hospital in Moedling, and rescuers were unable to save three men who were in that room, Matthias Hofer, a spokesman for Lower Austria province's health agency, told the Austria Press Agency. A woman was slightly injured.

Authorities were alerted shortly before 1 a.m. to the fire, which filled the internal medicine ward with smoke. Around 90 patients were evacuated, with some being moved to other parts of the hospital and others transferred to a clinic in nearby Baden.

The fire was extinguished by 3 a.m.

Evidence points to a cigarette having been the cause, police spokesman Stefan Loidl told APA later Tuesday.

Investigators believe that the fire started in the bed of a 75-year-old man who was a heavy smoker. The room's window had been tilted open for ventilation.

The man was one of the victims, along with two others aged 78 and 81 in the four-patient room. The fourth patient wasn't in the room at the time and wasn't harmed.


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