Fire kills 13 after birthday cake with candles and sparklers falls to floor in French bar

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Thirteen killed in French bar fire

ROUEN, France, Aug 6 (Reuters) - A fire swept through a bar in the northern French city of Rouen overnight, killing 13 people and injuring six, after a birthday cake with candles and sparklers fell to the floor and set the carpet ablaze, police said.

The fire broke out in the basement of the popular Cuba Libre bar and quickly engulfed the room where some 20 people were celebrating, filling it with thick black smoke and poisonous fumes, a Rouen police officer told Reuters.

"A large number of those who died were killed by the fire, others were overcome by the toxic fumes," the officer said.

One of the injured suffered burns to nearly 90 percent of the body and was in a critical condition, the officer added.

France's interior ministry said a judicial investigation was under way into the fire, which Rouen Mayor Yvon Robert described as "totally accidental."

Photos from the scene:

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Fire kills 13 after birthday cake falls to floor in French bar
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Fire kills 13 after birthday cake falls to floor in French bar
French firemen gather after a fire swept through a bar (C Rear) overnight, killing 13 people and injuring six, after a birthday cake with candles and sparklers fell to the floor and set the carpet ablaze, police said, in Rouen, France, August 6, 2016. REUTERS/Boris Maslard
French firemen gather after a fire swept through a bar overnight, killing 13 people and injuring six, after a birthday cake with candles and sparklers fell to the floor and set the carpet ablaze, police said, in Rouen, France, August 6, 2016. REUTERS/Boris Maslard
French firemen and rescue crew gather after a fire swept through a bar overnight, killing 13 people and injuring six, after a birthday cake with candles and sparklers fell to the floor and set the carpet ablaze, police said, in Rouen, France, August 6, 2016. REUTERS/Boris Maslard
A French policeman secures the scene after a fire swept through a bar overnight, killing 13 people and injuring six, after a birthday cake with candles and sparklers fell to the floor and set the carpet ablaze, police said, in Rouen, France, August 6, 2016. REUTERS/Boris Maslard
A picture taken on August 6, 2016 shows the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar after a fire in Rouen. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in a fire during a birthday party at a bar in the northern French city of Rouen, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 6, 2016 shows the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar after a fire in Rouen. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in a fire during a birthday party at a bar in the northern French city of Rouen, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters inspect the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 6, 2016 shows the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar after a fire in Rouen. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in a fire during a birthday party at a bar in the northern French city of Rouen, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters leave after inspecting the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters enter the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 6, 2016 shows journalists working in front of the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar after a fire in Rouen. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in a fire during a birthday party at a bar in the northern French city of Rouen, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of victims (C) speak with journalists in front of the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man reacts in front of the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
A man holding a rose stands in front of the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
A damaged window of the Au Cuba Libre bar is pictured in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A police officer stands outside the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman reacts outside the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Men lay down flowers in front of a barrier set up outside the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman lays down flowers at a barrier set up outside the damaged Au Cuba Libre bar in Rouen, northern France, on August 6, 2016, after a fire broke out overnight in the bar during a birthday party. At least 13 people were killed and six injured in the fire, officials said. / AFP / MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE (Photo credit should read MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images)
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That allayed initial public concerns that it could have been a terrorist attack in a city that this week buried a priest who was knifed to death by Islamists in his church.

Stunned onlookers stared at the bar's blown out windows and blackened interior on Saturday morning.

"All of a sudden, everything blew," said Valerie Fouquet, who was outside on the terrace of the bar at the time.

"We saw the smoke and we saw the flames, the chairs flew up, the window exploded."

More than 50 firefighters tackled the blaze, the interior ministry said. (Reporting by Clotaire Achi in Rouen and Gus Trompiz, Julie Carriat and Richard Lough in Paris; Editing by Michael Perry and Robin Pomeroy)

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