Towards 3:30 AM a loud boom was heard at the apartment building on the Neukölln Sonnenallee, at the corner of Pannierstrasse, The Berliner Kurier reported. Glass splinters from a window rained down onto the pavement. The explosion happened in the basement under an Arab snack bar.
By the time the fire department arrived, thick smoke was welling out of the snack bar and the basement windows. Before the arrival of the fire fighters, police had already gone into the burning building to bring residents, among them children, to safety. Eight residents of the apartment building had escaped the fire.
One policeman had to be guided to safety by the fire rescue using a smoke mask when the smoke in the stairway became impenetrable.
A 92-year-old resident also had to be rescued using a mask. “A medical doctor examined her,” says the fire rescue spokesperson.
The fire department deployed 40 firefighters to the location. One fireman was injured during firefighting operations and was brought to the hospital. He had dislocated his shoulder while working in the dark, smoky cellar. Another fireman suffered contusions.
While the firefighting operation was ongoing, residents of the house were waiting in a parked fire rescue bus. By around 5:20am the fire was eventually brought under control. The Sonnenallee had to be closed during the operation.
According a police spokeswoman, the fire commissioner’s office will investigate for first-degree arson. The background of the explosion is still unclear. Fire investigators were still collecting evidence in the afternoon. The Arab snack bar had only just recently opened its doors on March 1.