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Rio Olympics 2016: Australian shooter Warren Potent slept through fire evacuation


Rio de Janeiro: Shooter Warren Potent slept through a fire evacuation of Australia’s Olympic building which has forced a revamp of emergency plans.

Potent was oblivious to the fire in the basement of Australia’s residence at the athletes’ village, which team hierarchy believe was started by a cigarette tossed into piles of rubbish by a local worker.


Fire breaks out in Australian Olympic quarters

Athletes are forced to evacuate from their quarters at the Rio Olympic village over a blaze suspected to be caused by a discarded cigarette. Courtesy ABC News 24

Fire alarms had been deactivated at the time of Friday’s fire, and Potent says he wasn’t woken by door-knocking or phone calls to evacuate.

“I didn’t know it even happened, to be honest,” Potent told reporters on Saturday.

“We had our protocol in place but it doesn’t actually work when I’m asleep and the phone is on silent, unfortunately.”

Australian chef de mission Kitty Chiller, flanking Potent at a media conference, was troubled the 54-year-old wasn’t evacuated with about 100 other members of the Australian team.

“Sorry Warren, I’m glad you got a good little power nap there but it’s something that I will take back to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Chiller and her emergency support team have now elected fire wardens for each of the 18 floors of the Australian residence at the village.

Sleep-in: Warren Potent and Kitty Chiller at a press conference in Rio.
Sleep-in: Warren Potent and Kitty Chiller at a press conference in Rio. Photo: David Ramos

Overnight, firemen were stationed on all floors, and security guards in the basement, in a temporary measure.

Australian officials were unaware that fire alarms had been deactivated.

“Obviously that is completely unacceptable that a) the fire alarm was disabled and b) that if it had to be, that we weren’t warned about that,” Chiller said.

There had been “numerous people” given approval to deactivate the alarms – now there was just one, she said.

Australian hierarchy have since triple-checked the fire alarms were working after Chiller met with Rio 2016 organisers and the International Olympic Committee.

“There was no point in laying blame or saying `could have or should have’ at that point last night,” she said.

“It was just making sure that all our team was safe and the building was safe for that night.”

Chiller last Sunday refused to allow the Australians to take residence in their building, number 23 at the village, because of safety concerns.

The team moved in three days later after hasty repairs.

“It was just `really, of all the 31 buildings, it had to be building 23 after everything that has happened,” Chiller said.

“I don’t think you could write that script.”

AAP



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