There were 30 people inside the sauna at the time of the fire
Three men died in a fire in a Berlin gay sauna.
Firefighters were called to Steam Works, formerly Apollo Splash Club, at 22:23 on Sunday night (5 February).
Speaking to Gay Star News Valeska Jakubowski, a spokesperson for Berlin Police, confirmed initial media reports of an emergency exit on the ground floor being blocked.
She said it was highly unlikely to have contributed to the men’s deaths, but it would be part of the investigation.
‘The people downstairs were able to leave the sauna club through the basement emergency exits,’ she said.
‘They arrived in an underground car park. So yes, there was a door, but it was on the ground floor and it doesn’t seem to be responsible for what now, sadly, has happened.’
The club is located in the district of Schöneberg, the former center of West Berlin, near the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church and the famous Kaufhaus des Westens.
When emergency services arrived, they found around 25 people standing on the street.
Some of them were only dressed in towels or robes.
They found shelter in the neighboring pizzeria or an ambulance bus.
Fifteen men were examined on the spot, but they all escaped without injury.
They also told the firefighters there were men still inside the smoke-filled 2,000 square meter (21,5k square foot) venue.
Steam Works takes up the basement and ground floor of a seven-storey building.
Its corridors, which according to the club’s website include a dark room maze, are full of nooks and crannies.
Because of the winding layout, a spokesperson for Berlin’s fire brigade said the operation was ‘immensely difficult’.
The firefighters also had to break into and comb through 60 individual private cubicles.
While inside the maze-like club, they found the three dead men.
The coroner will determine the men’s exact cause of death in a post-mortem, but it is believed they died of smoke poisoning.
A fourth man, aged 48, was rescued and is being treated in hospital for smoke poisoning.
No identities have been released so far.
At the time of the fire, about 30 people were inside the venue; emergency services say there is no reason to assume they will find any more victims.
Fire investigators are set to start their work later on Monday, when the remaining smoke has cleared.
So far it is unclear what caused the blaze, although the Berliner Zeitung claims it started in a ground floor ceiling.
The fire did not spread into the 114-apartment retirement home taking up the space above Steam Works.
by Stefanie Gerdes
Source – Gay Star News