A huge fire broke out around 19:30 on Friday evening at the Porte d'Ulysse refugee reception centre in the Brussels municipality of Schaerbeek. No casualties were reported.
The Brussels fire department confirmed on Friday evening that it had been called out to a fire in a reception centre in Schaerbeek. The emergency services went to the scene with three fire engines, two ladders, two SMURs and several ambulances.
"The fire broke out on Chaussée de Louvain, in the back of a disused office building which was transformed into a reception centre for refugees by a citizen platform," stated Walter Derieuw, spokesperson for the Brussels Fire Brigade.
"All the occupants were evacuated following the arrival of the firefighters with the help of the police zone of Brussels-North," he added. There was still smoke coming out of the ceilings at the end of the evening and teams were still working to clear the debris.
The origin of the fire has yet to be determined but is likely to have been accidental, according to the fire brigade spokesperson.
Following the fire, the building is inhabitable. Around 200 refugees are now in need of being rehoused, which will add further pressure to the reception system – which has already been under strain due to the lack of shelter provided for refugees by the Federal Government.
"For the moment, our attention is focused on the emergency relocation of the 200 people in the best possible conditions. The next emergency is their rehousing in suitable places," said Mayor of Schaerbeek Cecile Jodogne on the website of the Brussels municipality.
The two hundred evacuees spent the night at the nearby stadium.