14 mentally disabled people burn to death in workshop

Scene of the incident 
By: Sanvi Rizvi 

(Scroll down for video) A large fire broke out at a workshop for the mentally disabled, burning to death at least 14 people, according to fire officials.

Fourteen people have died and several others were seriously injured after the fire swept through a workshop for people with disabilities in the Black Forest region of Germany, authorities said.

About 300 firefighters backed by helicopters fought the blaze in the town of Titisee-Neustadt in southwestern Germany, for more than two hours on Monday, with some firefighters wearing breathing apparatuses. They pulled several people from the affected building.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but there was a large police presence at the site. At least one explosion is believed to have taken place in a storage room.

It was still unclear whether chemicals are stored in the room, but the activities of the workshop included the treatment of wood.

Photos showed smoke billowing from the three-story concrete building and firefighters helping the wounded, some in wheelchairs, to helicopters and ambulances.

"We can say that we have 14 dead. The identification process is ongoing," Karl-Heinz Schmid, a police spokesman in the nearby city of Freiburg, said.

"We also have a large number of wounded who were taken to several hospitals."

Overall, the workshop employs about 120 people with disabilities. The source said most were mentally disabled workers, who made wooden decorations for Christmas, and other electrical and metal work.