Siegburg Important decisions for the 20 victims of the blaze last week are about to be made in Siegburg. Structural engineers began examining the ruined houses carefully on Monday morning.
By the end of the week, the affected families will know if their properties can be renovated or if they need to be torn down entirely, the GA was told by the city council in Siegburg. „We are definitely preparing everything we can, to support the affected people as well as possible“, said Jan Gerull, cit council spokesperson.
The necessary files for demolition or new construction permits are already being collected to be able to deal with them faster. The experts who are advising the owners have another important task. „They determine, which parts of the houses can be accessed and which can’t“, said Gerull. Already, some areas are in danger of collapsing. The houses can only be entered in the company of an expert. Since Monday the owners themselves are responsible for the safety in the ruined houses - not the city council any more. The houses are still cordoned off. Also the security company, who is controlling the admission to the affected roads, remains in charge. It is not yet clear what caused the fire at the railway embankment in Brückberg.
First the criminal investigation department from Cologne took over the investigation, but now the officer of the regional police are continuing the examination. Several witness reports, including one video taken from the driver’s cabin of one of the passing trains, were handed in, said police spokesperson Georg Küpper. So far, none of the reports have produced a successful suggestion on how the fire started.
As reported, air turbulences caused by a passing ICE train may have aided the fire to spread into a large blaze. Some of the people affected by the fire had expressed incomprehension as to why the train traffic was not immediately interrupted, at the latest after the first passenger train had passed the fire.
City Council offers apartments
This question is also part of the investigation, said Küpper. At the same time he emphasised that the flames spread within a few minutes to the other side of the train tracks while the communication which interrupts train traffic needs a bit of time. Fire brigade and Deutsche Bahn already issued a statement in which the closure of the track was reported as having been initiated „immediately“. Of the 32 people injured in the fire, none remained in hospital anymore, according to the city council. One person in need of care is currently in a assisted living home.
One family who cannot use their home since the fire, found temporary accommodation. „They asked around and found a new apartment“, said Gerull. Other affected people will be informed about possible accommodation during the week. „Once we know what the future living situation will be, we can access the donated goods accordingly“, said the spokesperson. And the amount of donations had grown even more.
Five classrooms were filled with donated items such as furniture etc. in the charity collection in the former school in Haufeld on Saturday. The event was organised by the city council. Many employees and volunteers of the initiative „Lohmar hilft“ as well as 15 refugees helped taking in the boxes and packages full of goods and sorted them into the rooms. About 200 people came to donate items. „Many came, emptied their car boot and headed off again“, said Manu Gardeweg, chairwoman of the„Lohmar hilft“ network. She estimates the number of donors to be as high as 300 even. One man even travelled from Belgium to drop off donations.
Tons of clothes
Gardeweg: „People mostly handed in furniture, and some of them extremely valuable.“ The helpers also took in flat-screen TVs, bed linen, crockery and about 2.5 tons of clothes. „The organisation of the event by the city was extremely good“, said Gardeweg. But not everything was actually useful. „Like a Christmas tree and carnival costumes.“
Combined with the donations which were handed in immediately after the fire, the clothes collection amounts to approximately five tons. To be able to handle these masses, the German Red Cross provided „Lohmar hilft“ with a large tent normally used in disaster control situations. On Tuesday, the helpers will begin to sort the donated goods there.
Help also came from somebody else: The Scouts St. Johannes Singular and eXodus Kaldaune collected donations in Troisdorf and Siegburg of 761 Euro.
Original text: Marcel Dörsing
Translation: Mareike Graepel