The fire broke out in a ground-floor apartment on Wehrbrücklstrasse around 9 p.m. The cause of the fire was initially said to be unknown. It was later revealed that there may have been a fire accident. The suspect is a 53-year-old woman who is the victim's partner. Unable to put out the fire, they allegedly set fire to a blanket and left the apartment.
Evidence of mental illness
Police spokesman Markus Dittrich announced that the woman had signs of mental illness. Neighbors told ORF the woman may have dementia. She may also have been drunk at the time of the crime.
In a brief initial interview, the 53-year-old admitted to setting the blanket on fire. She couldn't pinpoint a motive. “She said she didn't know why she did it,” Dittrich said. After consulting with a journalist from the Vienna public prosecutor's office, Dittrich said the 53-year-old was transferred to a psychiatric ward and complained of negligently causing the fire.
The spouse was saved “at the last moment.”
Her 57-year-old partner, who was rescued from the ground-floor apartment by the Vienna Fire Department “at the last minute” — according to fire department spokesman Christian Filer — is now hospitalized in artificial deep sleep.
When the informed firefighters arrived, the fire was burning through the window. “Flames had already spread to the exterior facade. But we were able to prevent the fire from spreading to the apartments above,” said Chief Fire Officer Christian Filer.
A fire brigade spokesman said the stairwell was heavily smoke-prone because the apartment door in the affected flat was open (“it was a classic open room fire”). A male occupant was still in the apartment at the time: “Two fire extinguishers were put out and colleagues entered the apartment using breathing apparatus through the entrance door and patio door, extinguished the fire and began searching for occupants.”
A 50-year-old man suffered burns and smoke inhalation
The tenant of the apartment was lying on the floor. The man was rescued and taken outside. According to the Vienna Fire Department, the man suffered burns and smoke inhalation. Six other people living in the home – including three children – were temporarily hospitalized but were not seriously injured.
A professional rescue team along with 16 rescue teams along with a special operations team provided emergency medical assistance. Some residents left the building on their own, while others were brought out of their apartments by the fire department using breathing apparatus due to heavy smoke. The stairwell smoke was then removed using a high-efficiency fan. The operation was completed at 11:15. The Vienna State Criminal Police Office is investigating the cause of the fire.