Arson ‘probable’ cause of fire in future housing centre for asylum seekers
Monday, 11 November 2019
Credit: The Brussels Times
A fire that was “probably” intentionally ignited is raging through a building in the town of Bilzen on Monday, which is destined to be transformed into a housing centre for asylum seekers.
The fire broke out in the roof of the building during the night of Sunday to Monday, with firefighters still fighting to contain the flames on Monday at around 8:30 A.M., according to RTBF.
Officials in Bilzen, located in the province of Limburg near the border with the Netherlands, said there was evidence of burglary inside the building, which served as a retirement home but is currently unoccupied.
The cause of the fire have not yet been determined, with Mayor Johan Sauwens saying that, with the evidence of a break-in, there was “great probability” that fire was lit on purpose, according to De Standaard.
Plans were announced this year to transform the building, located in the Grote-Spouwen district of the town, into a temporary housing centre for asylum seekers which was slated to open by mid-December.
News of the arrival of the centre sparked unrest in town, with just under a hundred demonstrators gathering in front of the building in October to protest the upcoming arrival of the asylum housing scheme.
Responding to the fire, Red Cross Flanders said that, with the extent of the damage to the property still to be determined, it was unclear whether the centre would open on schedule, Het Nieuwsblad reports.