A fast-moving fire swept through a birthday party in the basement of a bar in the northwest French city of Rouen, killing at least 13 people and injuring six others, the AP reports. More than 80 firefighters battled the blaze after midnight Friday at the downtown bar in the city in Normandy, Rouen Mayor Yvon Robert said after the blaze was extinguished. The fire was "totally accidental," Robert told Europe 1 radio, mentioning a possible gas explosion "from the heat in a basement room doubtless too small for the number of people present."
The local Paris-Normandie newspaper said the fire ignited in the basement of the Cuba Libre bar, which had been rented for a birthday celebration. The paper said the polystyrene ceiling was quickly ignited by candles on a birthday cake. The bar fire came as France is on maximum terror alert after two deadly attacks last month and was the second tragedy to hit Rouen in recent weeks. A priest was slain by two ISIS extremists in his church outside Rouen on July 26 and his funeral was held Tuesday in Rouen Cathedral. (Read more France stories.)