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3 dead in Australian nursing home fire

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Unread 11.18.11, 12:17 AM
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3 dead in Australian nursing home fire

11.17.11 10:27 PM

SYDNEY, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Fire broke out in a nursing home in Sydney early Friday, killing at least three people, authorities said.

The Australian reported about 30 people were taken to hospitals with eight reported in critical condition. No care-givers were reported among the dead or injured, the newspaper said.

Firefighters said they found two of people who died in one room and the third in another part of the building.

A total of 88 residents were evacuated.

Police said a special strike force was established to investigate the cause of the blaze, which appeared to have started in two locations at ground level.

New South Wales Fire Commissioner Greg Mullins said investigators were treating the fire as suspicious.

"We'll use our canine accelerant pickers, our dogs, that can pick up very small amounts of petrol or anything else," Mullins told reporters.

"So there will be specialized scientific testing, burn patterns, et cetera, and they will determine the cause."

Mullins said it was the worst fire he had seen in about 30 years. He said firefighters "could not see their hands in front of their faces."

Mullins said many patients were distressed and confused, while others with dementia weren't aware of what was happening.

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