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Dead woman’s obesity caused building fire during her cremation in Graz

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An Austrian crematorium officials have blamed a deceased woman’s obesity for causing a fire which had to be tackled by firefighters.

Graz firemen were covered in thick sticky soot as they tried to prevent the blaze from taking hold of the building.

The case has been widely reported in Austrian media, including in the ORT, and has ignited calls for a weight limit on bodies to protect against future fires.

Some countries such as Switzerland and the UK already have facilities which cater for extra large bodies, in line with the growing trend of expanding waistlines.

An expert report on the Austria fire has revealed that the woman being cremated weighed more than 200 kg – or 31st 7 lbs – and her size had caused the oven to overheat.

An Austrian crematorium officials have blamed a deceased woman's obesity for causing a fire which had to be tackled by firefighters

An Austrian crematorium officials have blamed a deceased woman's obesity for causing a fire which had to be tackled by firefighters

The press reports state that the filter temperature reached 300 C and officials realized there was a problem when thick black smoke started billowing into the building.

The device was immediately switched off but by then there was already a fire in the filter.

Firemen whose clothing was left covered with a layer of greasy black soot were snapped as they tackled the difficult to extinguish blaze in special breathing gear to avoid breathing in the fumes.

In the end they had to bring the fire under control by sending a blast of water in through the vents used to clear the filter. Repair work took several days during which time the crematorium was out of action.


Firemen said that after reports of similar problems at other cemeteries not only in Austria but also in Switzerland, officials were now are considering a ban on larger bodies.

Graz based fireman Otto Widetschek said: “Crematorium officials need to be more responsible and not just automatically put everybody in to be cremated.”

He said that in Switzerland there were moves now to make sure that XXL bodies were routinely shipped to a special crematorium able to deal with the extra heat caused by larger bodies.