Mother, 2 daughters flip themselves in to police after lethal German zoo hearth linked to sky lanterns


Three girls are below investigation in Germany for launching paper sky lanterns for the brand new yr, apparently igniting a hearth that killed greater than 30 zoo animals, officers mentioned Thursday.

The mom and her two daughters, ages 30 to 60, went to police within the western metropolis of Krefeld on New Yr’s Day after authorities held a information convention in regards to the blaze, legal police chief Gerd Hoppmann mentioned.


The ladies are being investigated on suspicion of negligent arson, prosecutor Jens Frobel mentioned. The offence can carry a jail sentence of as much as 5 years.

Many Germans welcome in 2020 legally with fireworks at midnight. Sky lanterns, nevertheless, are each unlawful and strange in Germany. The mini hot-air balloons fabricated from paper have been utilized in Asia for hundreds of years.

The fireplace began in a nook of the ape home’s roof within the first minutes of the brand new yr and unfold quickly. The zoo close to the Dutch border says the ape home burned down and greater than 30 animals — together with 5 orangutans, two gorillas, a chimpanzee and a number of other monkeys — had been killed, in addition to fruit bats and birds. The animals both burned to demise or died from smoke inhalation, authorities mentioned.


Hoppmann mentioned the ladies had ordered 5 sky lanterns on the web and advised authorities that that they had believed they had been authorized in Germany. He added that there was nothing within the product description displaying that they had been banned.

Hoppmann described the ladies as “completely normal people who seemed very sensible, very responsible” and mentioned it was “very courageous” of them to return ahead, saving authorities a difficult investigation. He mentioned they feared reprisals and authorities restricted the main points given in regards to the suspects.

Investigators consider only one lantern began the blaze. They discovered the opposite 4 later, with handwritten good needs for the brand new yr connected.


The destroyed ape home lacked hearth detectors and sprinklers, which weren’t required when it was constructed within the 1970s. The zoo mentioned, nevertheless, it had handed a daily hearth safety examine just a few months in the past.

The constructing’s roof had been renovated after a hailstorm just a few years in the past and Plexiglas was added, Hoppmann mentioned. He mentioned whereas investigators had been assured the sky lantern was responsible, they are going to have a look at different components which will have contributed to the blaze, comparable to dry fallen leaves on the roof.

Investigators plan to hold out checks to assist discover out why the blaze unfold so shortly. Firefighters had been solely capable of rescue two chimpanzees. The zoo mentioned Thursday it was happy with their situation.

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