Two Belgian firefighters killed in an abandoned building die to a fire gas ignition
13 Aug 2019

A "Black Day" for Belgium: Two firefighters killed and four injured in a fire gas ignition


In Beringen, Limburg, a heavy fire started in a vacant house during the night from Saturday to Sunday. The fire spread to other buildings, and two fatalities were reported by the fire department. Four others were injured.

This was announced by zone commander Bert Swijsen.

The fire broke out at 02.10 a.m. on the Koolmijnlaan in an empty house.

"What initially appeared to be an ordinary fire that we were able to extinguish was turned into a flashover situation in which the fire re-awoke" said Mayor Thomas Vints (CD&V).

However, the fire later spread to the entire housing block.

"Additional teams were called out from the nearest stations in our zone, Heusden-Zolder and Tessenderlo," said zone commander Bert Swijsen.


Ignition of hot fire gases

“While the intervention teams entered the building to fight the fire, an ignition of the hot fire gases occurred in the building. Immediately the signal was given to withdraw as quickly as possible. A number of colleagues were unable to get to safety in time. Part of the building collapsed due to the heat and the pressure wave. The evacuation revealed that two colleagues were missing. "

After part of the building had collapsed, the medical emergency plan was announced. There were reinforcements from other fire brigade posts in the South West Limburg zone and from two other relief zones in Limburg.

Four firefighters from the South West Limburg zone were injured.  Three were slightly injured and one was seriously injured. The slightly injured were transferred to Heusden-Zolder hospital due to  smoke inhalation. They have since left the hospital. The seriously injured was transported to Leuven. His condition is reportedly stable.

“During the search with the maximum effort of all colleagues, the two missing firefighters were unfortunately found lifeless. Our first concern goes to all the families of the victims. All families have been informed and we try to assist them as well as possible. All victims are from the Heusden-Zolder post, "says Swijsen.

Both the diseased firefighters young dads, it was reported during a press conference. The men were aged 37 and 42, both voluntary firefighters.

The Heusden-Zolder corps has 16 professional and 59 voluntary firefighters.

"August 19, 2019 will always be a black day for our municipality," said Mayor of Heusden-Zolder Mario Borremans.


"Heavy blow"

For all firefighters who were present at the intervention, care was provided.

“Our own FiST team, Fire Stress Team, provides psychological support. We receive support from the DSI, the social intervention service, the Red Cross and from victim support from the police. This is a major blow for the families involved, but also for the care zone, which everyone will have to recover. We therefore ask everyone to be serene about it, "says the zone commander.

The cause of the violent fire  is not yet known. A judicial investigation has been started.

This was the third time that a fire broke out in the vacant house, which was regarded as a "squat" where homeless people would spend the night.

A fire occurred in the same building last November after a squatter had set fire to a mattress. The building was subsequently sealed and boarded up by the fire brigade.


Two Belgian firefighters died in a fire gas ignition.