Peruvian Rehab Fire Kills 14

By Chrisanne Grise 05/07/12

Patients were trapped in a locked building; it's the second such tragedy in Peru this year.

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The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the second
rehab in Peru to burn down this year.
Photo via

At least 14 people locked in a drug and alcohol rehab center in Lima, Peru were killed when the building caught fire early Saturday morning. Officials have not yet determined the cause, but some suspect that the blaze at the Sacred Heart of Jesus clinic started when a patient set fire to his mattress. While the only known survivor jumped from the second floor, the other patients could not escape because the doors were locked and the windows were barred. This is the second such tragedy to occur in Peru this year: another rehab center, Christ is Love, was razed by fire back in January, killing 29 people who were also locked inside, motivating Peru's Health Ministry to begin work on new regulations for rehab clinics. The aunt of an 18-year-old who died in Saturday's Sacred Heart of Jesus fire, Jennifer Rugel, says that drug rehabilitation centers in Peru, as a rule, "seal their doors with locks because those interned want to escape and are there against their will." The large majority of Peru's rehab centers are unlicensed and lacking doctors. These unlicensed clinics, often run by church groups, have sprung up to answer to the approximately 100,000 addicts in need of treatment all over the country. The Sacred Heart clinic was licensed, but that an inspection last year recommended professional health care workers and improvements to prevent overcrowding.

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices,,, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.