Germany Lottery Winner’s Property Heavily Damaged in Alleged Arson Attack

Posted on: November 28, 2023, 06:52h. 

Last updated on: November 29, 2023, 10:12h.

A little more than a year ago, Kürsat “Chico” Yildirim won €9.9 million (US$10.83 million) in a lottery draw in Germany. Last week, part of those winnings went up in smoke when a residential building he owned in Dortmund caught fire. The authorities believe it was arson.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in Dortmund, Germany
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in Dortmund, Germany. The property belonged to a lottery winner who only recently purchased it. (Image: Feuerwehr Dortmund via Twitter)

A report from the Dortmund police shows that the officers and the fire department were alerted to the fire at around 4:20 a.m. last Friday. The blaze occurred in a building that Chico had reportedly just bought, according to German media outlet Bild.

Emergency services quickly began battling the flames, threatening to spread to neighboring houses. They were mostly successful, but the roof structures of the building were completely burned out. The fires reportedly damaged the cellars as well.

Authorities had to evacuate 23 nearby residents, some of whom suffered minor smoke inhalation. Four people went to a local Dortmund hospital for further evaluation because of smoke inhalation.

The rest holed up at a nearby café to watch the drama unfold. It took seven ladder trucks, one with a telescopic mast, working in unison to put out the inferno.

Arson Investigation Continues

Chico wasn’t on the property when the fire began. He said on social media later that he heard about it from his brother the next day and then made his way to the area.

The investigation into the cause of the fire continues, but the police assume it was arson. The case joins a chain of other fires on the north side of Dortmund.

There have been smaller and larger fires there in the past few weeks. However, it is still unclear whether this was possibly a single arsonist who targeted Chico. Police are hoping witnesses will step forward and provide some insight.

Chico has recently discussed his various real estate purchases, explaining that he has spent €6.7 million (US$7.33 million). It isn’t clear how much of that was tied up in the Dortmund property or whether he had time to purchase insurance. He reportedly just bought the property a week before the fire.

Rise to Fame

Chico, now 42, was 12 years old when he left his home country of Turkey for a better life in Germany. His father and grandfather were already in the country on work visas.

Chico completed an apprenticeship as a car mechanic and later worked as a crane operator before advancing to foreman. However, his time in the country also included a stint behind bars. Gambling and drugs led to robberies and fraud, which ended in a two-year sentence.

In August 2022, everything changed when Chico won the lottery. He no longer had to worry about work or spending money on gambling and quickly began his life of luxury.

That included fancy cars and trips – splurges on many things he could only previously dream of having. It also included a new girlfriend, a policewoman only known as “Candice N” he met when she pulled him over for a traffic infraction.