Devastating fire leaves 10 women dead in retirement home

SANTIAGO – A fire in Santa Marta’s retirement home, in Chiguayante community, Bío Bío region, killed 10 women. The incident occurred early on Tuesday. “It was a fire out of control,” firefighters said.   

Early last Tuesday, Santa Marta’s retirement house was affected by a fire killing 10 women. The retirement home is in Chiguayante, Bío Bío region, about 25 minutes from downtown Concepción. Prosecutor Michelángelo Bianchi said that some of them suffered from disability but didn’t specify whether all the victims were elderly women. Intendant Jorge Ulloa explained that “they haven’t established the causes of the accident yet, whose alarm sounded at 03:30 am.”

Ulloa added that one person suffered from burns and was taken to a medical center, while three other people made it out safe. Firefighters found the victims under the rubble.

DNA exams to identify victims

The victims were identified via DNA exams. “It is a very difficult labor due to the conditions of the victims. They are unrecognizable, neither were there recognizable clothes, therefore, DNA tests will be done, so the presence of families will be needed,” said prosecutor Bianchi.

Firefighters described the fire as “unleashed and out of control” and a volunteer firefighter explained that the first call came in at 03:30 am. Personnel was deployed immediately, arriving at the scene only five minutes later, with more units arriving shortly after.

Interior minister Andrés Chadwick called the deaths painful and tragic. President Sebastián Piñera visited the community, CNN reported. Bío Bío’s prosecutor has two hypotheses about the causes: “There are some declarations from the people in charge of the place. Some say they heard a noise like a short circuit,” adding the he saw something like a stove that might have caused the fire. The definitive cause, however, will be established as part of a thorough investigation.


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