A massive explosion in a residential and commercial building in Eschweiler near Aachen injured 15 people on Thursday evening. Two of them – including an infant a few weeks old – were in danger of death during the night, as the Aachen police reported on Friday. During the night, the police had spoken of 16 injuries. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries during the subsequent firefighting operation. The investigators do not rule out third-party negligence.

Some of the injured had “massive burns,” said a fire department spokesman at night. The police and fire department assumed a gas explosion in the four-story house. The force of the detonation shattered all the window panes within a radius of 50 meters. Shops opposite the house from which the detonation wave came were also in ruins.

The investigators do not rule out third-party negligence. “It is currently unclear whether there was an accident or someone else’s fault,” said a spokeswoman for the Aachen police on Friday morning. “We are investigating in all directions,” said a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office in Aachen. The authorities initially did not provide any further information. The police assume that the injured are residents of the house. No one is missing so far, the police spokeswoman said. The scene of the event was cordoned off over a large area, and forensics were on site. People would be questioned.

Neighborhood affected too

The city administration took care of 18 neighbors during the night. A city spokesman said they had to leave their homes because, for example, bedroom windows had been destroyed by the blast. They were looked after in a parish hall near by employees of the social welfare office. They later stayed with friends and relatives. They would not have been able to return to their homes until morning. The spokesman could not say how many of the 15 injured residents of the affected house were still being treated in the hospital in the morning.

According to the spokesman, the pedestrian zone in front of the house was completely blocked off in the morning for a length of around 150 meters. He estimated the number of houses damaged by the explosion at around 20. Numerous shop windows had been destroyed and some of the windows on the floor above. The house where the explosion occurred was severely damaged by the ensuing fire. A back building was completely burned out. There was a clothing store on the first floor.

Large contingent of firefighters

The fire had occupied a large contingent of firefighters from the region for hours during the night. The police and fire brigade received support from the Eschweiler Technical Relief Agency. The fire was extinguished around 2:00 a.m. However, embers were discovered later. A fire watch from the fire brigade was still on site in the morning. A total of around 200 workers were deployed. The explosion was reported at 9:19 p.m. on Thursday evening.

Eschweiler is located between Aachen, Cologne and the North Eifel. The city has almost 56,000 inhabitants.