Warsaw, Poland – Five teenage girls died yesterday after a fire broke out at an Escape Room game in the city of Koszalin in northern Poland. All aged 15, the victims were thought to have been celebrating a birthday when the fire broke out at around 5 p.m.. A 25-year-old-man was also seriously injured in the blaze and has been hospitalized.
While the cause of the fire is not yet known, officials are carrying out safety checks on every escape room in the country, reports the BBC.
A spokesman for regional firefighters said the bodies were found in a room that was near the blaze but was not directly hit by it. According to the Polish state news agency PAP, the girls died from carbon monoxide asphyxiation.
After President Duda on Twitter called the deaths of the five young girls a “crushing tragedy”, Koszalin’s mayor, Piotr Jedlinski, announced that Sunday would be a day of mourning in the city.
Originating in Japan, Escape Rooms are physical adventure games in which players are locked in a room and are given a set time limit to solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues and hints to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms. They have grown rapidly in recent years and are now popular with teenagers worldwide.
While the first real-life Escape Room was created by a company called Scrap in Kyoto, Japan, in 2007, Attila Gyurkovics, the founder of ParaPark, a Hungarian franchise that now operates in 20 locations in Europe and Australia, claims to have had the original idea, and to have established the first such game not just in Budapest but “in the whole universe”. He asserts that he had no information about the Japanese Escape Games, and that he based his games on Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s famous flow theory and his job experience as personality trainer.