Man Dies in Fire in Reykjavík Skip to content

Man Dies in Fire in Reykjavík

A man in his twenties died in a fire in Hverfisgata in central Reykjavík yesterday morning. Four police officers are considered to have performed a Herculean task when they saved another man from the building’s loft where the fire was raging.

“We were about to retreat when we saw this man come fumbling through the smoke,” Pétur Gudmundsson, one of the police officers, told Fréttabladid. “It was in the last second. We literally ran away from smoke, explosions and heat, carrying the man with us.”

The man woke up when the police officers yelled and knocked on doors. “If only a few more seconds had passed, he would never have woken up,” Gudmundsson said.

Gudmundsson has been a police officer for 20 years and has on two other occasions saved people from burning buildings. “Now this feeling of achievement is mixed because of the man who died. It was our dream to be able to save everyone, there just wasn’t a chance.”

According to the policeman, it would have been impossible to break into the other apartment in the loft where man who died was sleeping.

The apartment was aflame and the police officers didn’t have any equipment to protect themselves from the heat and smoke. They also didn’t know whether anyone was inside until later on.

There were six people inside the building’s five apartments when the fire started shortly after 4 am and the police managed to get five of them out. Smoke divers found the sixth person unconscious. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Birkir Grétar Halldórsson was asleep on the floor below the loft. “I woke up to a smell of smoke, took a look outside but couldn’t see anything. Then I heard a lot of noise, which was the police knocking on all doors. I was only given a few seconds to get dressed and get out.”

Halldórsson said he had felt frightened once outside the building. “When I was sitting inside the police car, watching the house burn, knowing about the man sleeping inside,” he described.

The source of the fire is unknown.

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