14 November 2022, by Victoria Séveno

A 27-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson after a large fire broke out at an apartment building in Amsterdam on Sunday morning. No serious injuries were reported, however, several pets died as a result of the blaze. 

Seven pets die in fire in Amsterdam apartment complex

The fire broke out at one of the Startblok Riekerhaven apartment buildings on Voetbalstraat early on Sunday morning, with emergency services arriving on the scene at around 8.30am. It took several hours for the Dutch fire brigade to extinguish the flames, with officers reporting at 1pm on Sunday afternoon that they’d managed to get the fire under control. 

The building was quickly evacuated, and while paramedics checked over a few residents, no one had to be treated in hospital. There were, however, a handful of casualties, with AT5 reporting that six cats and a bearded dragon died in the fire. 

Dutch police arrest man on suspicion of arson

Police report that a 27-year-old suspect who lives in the complex has been arrested for arson. According to NOS, officers were called to the scene early on Sunday morning following several noise complaints from a number of residents. When they arrived at the apartment reported to be the source of the loud noise, they discovered “that something was on fire” in the living area of the suspect’s home. 

Speaking to AT5, several residents reported that the suspect was a man “who is confused” and “with whom there had been problems for some time.” 

Dozens of students and refugees left without housing

The Startblok complex was the initiative of the municipality and Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) and is home to hundreds of students and refugees. 120 people live in rental properties in the building affected by the fire, with footage of the incident showing that very little of the structure remains intact.

Alternative housing is being arranged for the dozens of people who cannot return to their homes, with the fire brigade saying residents will almost certainly not be able to return to their apartments in the near future. 

In a statement shared on Instagram, the mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, called it a “dramatic day for residents and their families,” adding that the municipality would “make every effort to arrange shelter and new places to stay” for those left without a place to live.

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