Firefighters in the coastal city of Tønsberg suspect arson after alarms rang for three separate fires in the middle of night, all of them in the same waterfront area. Several residents of one building had to be rescued from their balconies, and 14 suffered smoke inhalation.
The first alarm came in around 3:30am, that a camping trailer was on fire in the recently renovated waterfront area near Kaldnes Brygge. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that just minutes later, firefighters were called out to another fire in one of the area’s relatively new waterfront residential buildings.
“When we arrived at the scene, there were many folks utside the building,” Espen Solemdal of the Vestfold Police District told NRK. Several were on their balconies and around 40 persons were evacuated, also from a neighbouring building.
“I can understand that it all seemed very dramatic,” Solemdal said, adding that all emergency services responded to the alarm. Thick smoke inside the building prevented many residents from escaping down the stairs, and were instead rescued from their balconies. Ambulances took 14 persons to the local emergency medical center for treatment for smoke inhalation.
Then came another alarm, that a boat was on fire in the same general area. Given the three fires all within just a few hundred meters of one another, Solemdal said “we suspect they were deliberately set.”
The fire in the four-story residential building at Kaldnes Brygge began in one of its elevators, NRK reported. All three fires were extinguished by 4:45am, according to operations leader Per Arne Amundsen.
The evacuated residents were taken to the nearby Quality Hotel in Tønsberg while firefighters secured the building and investigators took over. Police were calling for tips from any witnesses in the area as their arson probe got underway.