Fire in Rio’s Olympic Village Forces Evacuation of 100 Australian Athletes, Officials

Volunteers stand near a set of Olympic Rings at Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, July 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(ABC News) — A small fire broke out in the basement of the Australian quarters of the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday, forcing the evacuation of about 100 athletes and officials, team officials said.

Kitty Chiller, the Chef de Mission of Australia’s Olympic team, said during a press conference, “The stairwells filled with smoke, but the fire was confined to the carpark. No one was injured.”

The fire was extinguished by the fire brigade and athletes and officials returned to their quarters after approximately 30 minutes, she said.

An investigation into the fire between the International Olympic Committee and Rio 2016 officials is currently underway.

Chiller said the fire is believed to have been caused by a cigarette in a trash can, even though the Olympic Village is a non-smoking area. “What we think has happened is a cigarette has been thrown in a rubbish bin, or on rubbish, and that’s what’s started the fire.”

She continued, “There’s a lot of rubbish around the place which a lot of countries have been talking about for the last few days, left from contractors, left from workers. There are a lot of smokers. This is my real issue. There are a lot of workers and contractors smoking in the village. The athletes’ village is a non smoking venue. There’s a lot of people just walking around, smoking.”

Following the fire, “We’ve asked for a reminder to go out to all staff and contractors that there is no smoking,” she said.

Chiller also took issue with the building’s lack of properly functioning fire alarms.

“What we have subsequently found is that the fire alarms had been silenced while they were carrying out maintenance on the building next door to ours,” she said. “We hadn’t been advised that the fire alarms were silenced, so how we found out was basically smoke in the corridors and stairwells. It’s absolutely not satisfactory at all.”

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