Woman suspected of deadly Paris fire ‘just released from psychiatric ward’

The woman suspected of setting fire to a Paris apartment building in which 10 people died had only just been released from a psychiatric ward, sources close to the investigation said Wednesday.

Woman suspected of deadly Paris fire 'just released from psychiatric ward'

The woman in her 40s, who lived in the building, is understood to have been treated a dozen times in psychiatric facilities. In late January she was released from Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital in Paris, sources said.

The fire on the upper floors of the building on Rue Erlanger in the upscale 16th Paris district, was the most deadly in the capital since 2005.

Thirty people were also hurt in the blaze which ravaged much of the back of the building in the early hours of Tuesday.

Some 20 firemen Wednesday continued to search through the building's blackened remains, part of which has been declared unsafe to live in.

Dramatic footage of the scene, filmed by firemen and neighbours, showed flames shooting out of windows and firemen climbing narrow ladders to rescue terrified residents, some dressed only in pyjamas, from the top of the eight-storey block.

The suspected arsonist, who was immediately detained, is currently being held in a police psychiatric facility.

She was “intoxicated when detained and attempting to set fire to a car,” police said.

The woman had already been in trouble with police, including once for causing damage by fire, but she was never convicted.

She had repeated run-ins with a neighbour, who is a fireman, and was again involved in a dispute with him just before the fire broke out, police said.

The 22-year-old neighbour told Le Parisien newspaper Tuesday that his girlfriend had asked the woman to turn down her music late on Monday, prompting a flurry of insults that led them to call the police.

A special mass of remembrance for the victims was held Wednesday at the nearby Saint-François-de-Molitor Catholic church. 

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Fire ravages building near Paris opera house

Police in the French capital have advised people to avoid the Boulevard des Capucines, near Place de l'Opéra, after a building caught fire.

A large fire has broken out near Paris' Place de l'Opéra. Emergency services say to avoid the area.
A large fire has broken out near Paris' Place de l'Opéra (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

A large building has caught fire on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris’ 9th arrondissement. 

Images posted on social media show plumes of black smoke coming out of the old haussmanian building as fire engines attend to the blaze.

It is not yet clear what the cause of the fire was. 

French police have advised the public to stay away from the area to allow access for fire engines. 

We will be updating this story as we get more information.