Six people died and dozens more were hospitalized for smoke inhalation after a fire broke out overnight in a retirement home in Milan, the authorities said Friday, adding that the toll could have been far higher.
The fire started around 1:20 a.m. in a room of the first floor of the Casa dei Coniugi retirement home in a southern residential neighborhood of Milan.
The cause of the fire was being investigated, firefighters and city officials said, while dozens of people had been evacuated from the structure.
Speaking on the street in front of the home early Friday, Mayor Giuseppe Sala of Milan said the fire had been contained to one room of the structure, where two people were killed by the flames.
The fire was quickly brought under control, but the other victims died from smoke inhalation, the mayor said. “It is a heavy toll,” he said in a televised interview. “It could have been much worse.”
At least 80 people were taken to the hospital, with three in serious condition, about 15 with non-life threatening injuries and around 60 with light injuries, said Luca Cari, the spokesman for Italy’s firefighters.
According to its website, the Casa dei Coniugi residence can accommodate guests with different levels of self-sufficiency.
Nicola Micele, Milan’s fire chief, said the nature of the blaze “was clear,” adding that investigators were working with the judicial authorities and the police to determine how it had started.