Toll in Mexico nursing home fire rises to 17, arson possible

AP News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 11:37 AM
Toll in Mexico nursing home fire rises to 17, arson possible

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A fire that killed 17 residents at a retirement home for poor people on Mexico's northern border may have been intentionally set, the city's mayor said Wednesday.

Mexicali Mayor Jaime Diaz Ochoa said in a statement that another body had been found in the charred wreckage of the wood-structure, tin-roofed nursing home's dormitory area.

Diaz Ochoa said the area where the fire started is suspicious because there appeared to be no natural source, like electrical wires or fuel, for the origin of the fire. Other officials said it started near a perimeter fence.

"There is the assumption that it could have been intentional," Diaz Ochoa told the Televisa network Wednesday. "In the area where it started there are ... boxes, which by themselves could not have started the fire."

Diaz Ochoa also said he had been told there was a dispute between the administrators of the facility.

"We have been told by the representatives that there was a dispute for control of the nonprofit," he said.

The facility was run by the nonprofit Cultural Society for the Promotion of Social Welfare and housed poor, abandoned or formerly homeless elderly people.

Telephone numbers listed for the home rang unanswered or were disconnected.

In its government registration page, the group lists one of its functions as "giving humanitarian assistance to low-income elderly people in need, including food, shelter, clothing and medical care."

Diaz Ochoa said state prosecutors were investigating the fire. Some of the bodies were badly charred and are still awaiting identification.

One resident was still in very serious condition, with burns. Three others injured in the fire were recovering and may be released from a hospital.