Fire At Small Hotel In Southern Brazil Kills At Least 10 People

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A fire tore through a small hotel in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre early Friday, killing at least 10 people and injuring 11, authorities said.

The fire broke out in the early hours in the three-story building, which provided affordable housing in single rooms and had a contract with the municipal government to shelter homeless people.

The establishment didn’t have proper licensing and lacked an emergency fire plan, the fire brigade of the Rio Grande do Sul state said.

A witness told local media that he managed to leave his room at around 2 a.m. after the fire broke out, dashing through smoke as flames approached.

“I only had time to put on my flip-flops and run. My sister, who lived on the third floor, ended up being burned to death,” 56-year-old Marcelo Wagner Schelech told daily newspaper Zero Hora.

Known as Garoa Floresta, the hotel is part of the Garoa group, a chain that has 22 other small hotels in Porto Alegre. In 2022, a fire broke out in another one of the hotels, killing one person and injuring 11.

Porto Alegre Mayor Sebastião Melo said in a press conference his administation had signed an agreement with the company in 2020 for the use of 400 of its rooms to shelter homeless people.

Melo said that contract will now be investigated, and the chain’s 22 units, all of which providers of social housing, will be inspected.

Porto Alegre's city hall had contracts for 16 rooms at the small hotel that caught fire on Friday.

Eight of the 11 people rescued from the fire are still hospitalized, two of them still in serious condition but under no life threat, local authorities said. Two of the people who sought medical attention were homeless. All of the victims will now receive shelter elsewhere.