German authorities say 16 asylum seekers suffered from smoke inhalation after a fire broke out at a container housing facility in the central city of Kassel.

The Kassel fire department told the dpa news agency the fire started inside one of the residences Sunday and that an anti-migrant attack had been ruled out.

About 200 firefighters battled for several hours to control the fire, which burned more than a dozen of the temporary housing units, sending thick smoke billowing into the air that was visible for miles around.

Around 120 asylum-seekers live in the facility at the former Kassel airport and authorities say it was lucky that the fire broke out in the daytime while most of them were out of their homes.

The cause is under investigation.