AMMAN, Jordan – A fire in a center for refugees who fled the Syrian civil war killed seven members of a family, a civil defense spokesman said Wednesday, the latest tragedy to befall tens of thousands who escaped the violence in Syria only to face difficult winter conditions in camps across the border in Jordan.
A kerosene heating unit accidentally flipped over, spreading kerosene on the ground and causing a huge blaze, said Col. Fareed Sharaa.
"The fire spread quickly to floor mattresses, where the refugee family was sleeping, killing all its members," Sharaa said in a written statement. He said four others from a different family were hospitalized with burns.
Police said there was no immediate information on the identity of those killed and whether any relatives survived.
Sharaa said the kerosene heaters are used in caravans in the King Hussein Gardens in Ramtha on the border with Syria. The site is a temporary shelter for refugees as their identity is being established before they are moved to a nearby desert camp. Several refugee families share each caravan as sleeping quarters.
The refugees are then moved to the Zaatari camp. It shelters nearly 55,000 Syrians. In recent days they have been battered by a flash flood caused by torrential rains and freezing temperatures in the Mideast's fiercest storm in years.
There are 235,000 other Syrians living outside the camp in cities across Jordan. Some of them share apartments or are being hosted by Jordanian families.