SYDNEY, Australia -- A fire that killed five young travelers in a Sydney backpackers' hostel might have been deliberately set 'for fun,' police said Monday.
Arson investigators were trying to establish the identity of a man seen sitting alone in the lobby of the Downunder Backpackers' Hostel minutes before the fire erupted at dawn Sunday.
'It is possible someone dropped a cigarette or something may have been dropped in the lounge,' a police spokesman said. 'But we can't discount some drunk has come back to the hostel and lit it up for fun.'
Five tourists died of smoke inhalation when the fierce blaze swept through the hostel in the busy Kings Cross section of Sydney.
Police identified three of the victims as David Leo Hillman, 25, of Canada, Jacinda Maree Hill, 25, from New Zealand, and Allan Nielsen, 27, of Denmark.
Nielsen and Hill were returning to Hill's Auckland home to be married, officials said.
The names of an Austrian man in his 20s and a 20-year-old Swedish man killed in the blaze have been withheld until their families have been notified.
Most of the people in the budget-priced hostel managed to escape unhurt, but at least 16 people, including two ambulance workers and a policeman, were treated for smoke inhalation, burns, broken bones and other injuries.
The fire erupted in the lobby and quickly spread up the stairs to all three floors of the $7.50-a-night hostel.
With stairways blocked by fire and smoke and no external fire escapes, most people were forced to flee through the narrow windows in the dormitory-style rooms.
The hostel has 58 beds, four or five to a room, and caters to budget travelers.