Poland will close 13 escape room entertainment sites due to safety flaws, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday. The move came two days after a fire killed five teenage girls locked in an escape room in the north of the country.
Authorities carried out inspections at least 178 escape rooms across Poland over the weekend and found that 129 of them did not meet health or safety standards. Morawiecki ordered an evaluation of around 1,100 sites nationwide and urged people to report flaws to firefighters and police.
“This was unprecedented,” Morawiecki said. “Any sort of prevention is important.”
Escape rooms involve locking players into a room, where they then have to solve puzzles and find clues in order to obtain a key to escape. Regarded as an intellectual challenge, the games have become increasingly popular among Polish teenagers in the past five years.
Leaky gas container blamed
On Friday, firefighters found the bodies of five 15-year-old girls locked inside an escape room at a private residence in the city of Koszalin after extinguishing a fire outside the room. Autopsies showed that the girls, who had been celebrating a birthday, died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
A man working at the escape room site was also hospitalized with burns. Prosecutors said a leaky gas container inside a heater most likely caused the fire.
Fire chief Leszek Suski said the site had no emergency evacuation route. Police chief Jaroslaw Szymczyk said others had posted negative remarks online complaining about the safety of the escape room, but authorities were never notified.
Police arrested the site’s 28-year-old owner and plan to question the hospitalized worker.
dv/amp (AP, Reuters)