Firefighters and police investigators gather at the scene of a fatal fire in Plotni Street in Brno, Czech Republic, on Thursday, May 4, 2023.
CNN  — 

Eight people have died in the city of Brno, the Czech Republic, after a large fire broke out early on Thursday in a structure thought to be used as a shelter by homeless people, Czech police said.

Six men and two women were killed after the fire engulfed several mobile cabins near a residential complex in Brno, the second largest Czech city, police said.

The police said that initial investigation suggests the people became trapped inside the cabins, unable to find their way out because of heavy smoke.

“According to the owner, the building was empty as of yesterday afternoon, but homeless people were using it as a shelter to sleep in,” the police said in a statement.

The cabins were used as a dormitory for construction workers in the past, but have been abandoned for some time. The police said the structure was slated for demolition and the people who were caught in the blaze entered it “without authorization.”

The Fire Rescue Service of the South Moravian Region said in a statement that the fire has been extinguished as of Thursday morning.

“This is a huge human tragedy that cannot leave anyone untouched. Big thank you to the firefighters who bravely fought the flames,” Brno’s mayor Markéta Vaňková said in a statement.