Germany refugee arson Heppenheim
A fire broke out in the entrance area of a refugee home in Heppenheim, GermanyReuters

German police said five people were injured in a fire at a refugee shelter which could be the latest in a series of arson attack targeting migrants in recent weeks, against the backdrop of the touching display of solidarity shown by the overwhelming majority of the population.

The blaze erupted overnight in the hall entrance of a building housing about 60 asylum seekers in Heppenheim, in the western state of Hesse. Four residents suffered from poisoning by smoke inhalation, while another one was seriously injured after he jumped from a second floor window to save himself from the flames, local media reported.

Residents were from several countries including from Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Ethiopia, Algeria, Iraq and Somalia.

Police could not immediately say whether the fire was caused by arson but Germany has witnessed a spate of similar incidents. Opposition to mass immigration by far-right groups has increasingly escalated into violence in recent weeks, with more than 200 attacks on refugee centres reported since January.

In August Chancellor Angela Merkel was labelled a "traitor" by xenophobic demonstrators who heckled her as she visited a refugee centre targeted by violent protests in the eastern town of Heidenau, near Dresden.

The government said it is expecting to receive some 800,000 asylum applicants and refugees to cross its border this year and has been one of the more sensitive to their plea in Europe. The influx has been particularly high in recent weeks with thousand arriving via Hungary from Greece and the Balkans.

For the large part, incoming migrants have been met by a wave of solidarity by the German public. Earlier this week, police in Munich had to urge people to stop bringing food, water, clothing and other goods for the thousands asylum seekers.

Some have been opening their homes as well as their hearts, hosting refugees in spare rooms. Even football champions Bayern Munich have taken a moral stand by offering food and language lessons to those who arrive in the country also making the offer of €1m ($1,114,750, £729,465) to help "social integration".

"Bayern has a social responsibility to help the refugees, needy children, women and men, to help them and to assist them in Germany," said Karl Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern's president.

A record number of more than 320,000 refugees and migrants have crossed EU borders so far this year, mainly through a dangerous sea route across the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy. Some 107,500 arrived in July alone, while more than 2,600 are believed to have died at sea since January.

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