Victims of Poland escape room fire to be buried together


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The five teenage girls who died in a fire at an escape room entertainment site in northern Poland will be buried together in a joint ceremony this week, the city mayor said Monday.

Fire officials said that 26 similar sites have been shut down because of security flaws since Friday’s tragedy. Inspections of around 1,100 sites across Poland continue.

The man who designed the escape room in the city of Koszalin has been detained and charged with intentionally creating a fire danger and unintentionally causing the deaths. The local court ordered the man, identified only as 28-year-old Milosz S., arrested for three months while the case proceeds.

The man’s two attorneys said he was in very bad emotional state and unable to testify.

“He cannot cope with what has happened,” said attorney Wieslaw Berlinski. “This is not the time for giving testimony. This is the time for condolences.”

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Attorney Wojciech Janus said it was a “tragedy and trauma” for the man who has told the prosecutors “he would give up his life if only he could prevent this tragedy from happening.”

Prosecutors said the site’s heating system was faulty and there was no emergency evacuation route.

Koszalin Mayor Piotr Jedlinski said the city is arranging and financing the joint burial Thursday of the 15-year-old victims, who were friends from the same school class and celebrating a birthday when they died.

Prosecutor Ryszard Gasiorowski said Monday that an employee at the site who suffered burns and remains hospitalized told investigators that one of the gas cylinders in the reception room’s heating system began making a strange sound and he couldn’t fix it. He said the fire started suddenly and cut off his way to the door of the locked room where the girls were. The employee then ran out of the building and asked passers-by to call for help. He was questioned at the hospital as a witness.

Players in escape room games are locked inside a room or building and must solve puzzles and find clues that lead them to the key that will unlock the door. The games are highly popular among teenagers in Poland.

Psychologists were at the victims’ school Monday to help students and teachers cope with the trauma.

In reaction to the tragedy, movie distributor United International Pictures’ spokeswoman Kinga Zych said it was putting off the Jan. 11 premiere in Poland of U.S. horror movie “Escape Room” by Adam Robitel.

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