Poland to close 'escape rooms' that fail safety standards: PM

FILE PHOTO: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will close 'escape rooms' that do not meet safety standards, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday after a fire killed five teenage girls.

The girls were celebrating a birthday at an escape room in the northern town of Koszalin when the fire broke out. The venue's owner was arrested on Sunday, Polish media reported.

Authorities carried out inspections of at least 178 escape room locations across Poland at the weekend and found 129 did not meet health and safety standards, said the head of state fire services Leszek Suski. Thirteen locations were ordered closed.

In escape rooms, participants are locked in and race against the clock to solve puzzles and challenges to open a way out.

"This was unprecedented ... any sort of prevention is important," Morawiecki told reporters.

Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski urged parents to report potential safety violations at escape rooms or other children's entertainment centers. "Sanctions need to be harsh," Brudzinski said.

Morawiecki said he had ordered a report on the around 1,100 escape rooms or similar locations across Poland and the government would determine if changes to safety regulations were needed.

(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Janet Lawrence)