Poland shuts down 13 ‘escape room’ game sites due to safety flaws

Forensic and other police experts examine the site of a fire in an Escape Room, in Koszalin, northern Poland, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Investigators in Poland on Saturday blamed a gas leak in a heating system at an "Escape Room" for a fire that killed five teenage girls and injured a man. (AP Photo)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish officials have shut down 13 escape room entertainment sites for safety flaws and the prime minister asked people Sunday to report such lapses to firefighters and police after five teenage girls were killed in a fire.

Firefighter chief Leszek Suski said the escape room at a private house in the city of Koszalin, where the girls died Friday locked inside a room celebrating a birthday, had no emergency evacuation route. Firefighters found the bodies of the 15-year-old victims after they extinguished a fire next to the locked room. Autopsies showed they died of carbon monoxide inhalation.

Police chief Jaroslaw Szymczyk said other people had previously posted critical remarks online about the safety of that escape room site but local officials were not notified.

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The 28-year-old who runs the site has been detained and will be questioned, Szymczyk said. His employee, who suffered burns in the fire, is also going to be questioned.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke after holding a meeting in which officials discussed ways of improving safety at entertainment venues. He called the deaths of the 15-year-olds an “immense tragedy.”

Since Friday, over 200 of Poland’s some 1,100 escape rooms have been checked, revealing a number of safety flaws that needed to be immediately fixed.

Players in escape room games are locked inside a room or building and must solve puzzles and find clues that lead them to the key that will unlock the door. Regarded as an intellectual challenge, the games are highly popular among teenagers in Poland.